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As county basketball play opens, head-to-head tie-breaker added


County boys and girls basketball teams start playing for keeps on Tuesday in terms of advancing to the county championship game between North and South Division winners on Feb. 25.

While the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association persists in not seeding teams (against coaches' wishes) for its open competition, Anne Arundel County has added an important step to its tie-breaker criteria.

Ever since there were tie-breakers, "head-to-head play" has been an imperative step in the process. Realizing that it had been left out of the criteria this fall, our county athletic directors met with county coordinator Rick Wiles and corrected the problem.

The coaches wanted the revision (that doesn't matter to the MPSSAA), so Wiles and company made head-to-head results the fourth criterion. But it ought to be at least No. 3, if not the first step.

So, in the event of a tie in either the six-team North or South divisions, the official criteria to determine the championship opponents now goes like this: 1) most wins in the Division -- 10 games, play each team twice; 2) county league wins -- not percentage in six-game crossover; 3) overall wins, including tournaments; 4) head-to-head record; 5) coin flip.

But think about this: Suppose one of the teams tied played in a quality tournament, and the other played two "cupcakes" -- and the latter ends up with the most wins overall. Or, suppose one team plays in a tournament, wins a game and the other hasn't played in a tournament.

For those reasons alone, head-to-head should move up to No. 3, with the overall record moving down to No. 4, as the last resort before that epitome of last-resorts, the coin flip. If not, the temptation to schedule tournament and non-league "cupcakes" will surface again.

The spirit of the open tournament has encouraged teams to play the best without fear of penalty, but making overall wins a priority over head-to-head results defeats the purpose. As the late, great Charley Eckman (man, I miss that guy) would say, "It's a very simple game."

Reminder: The North Division includes Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast and Old Mill. In the South: Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Severna Park, Southern and South River.

Big double-header

Tuesday's schedule includes a boys and girls basketball doubleheader in Gambrills that is a must-see. The top-ranked Arundel girls and No. 7 Annapolis tip off at 5: 15 p.m. At 7: 15, it's the No. 3 Annapolis boys vs. No. 12 Arundel.

Girls game: Annapolis poses a serious threat to the defending Class 4A state champion girls of Arundel, and this will be the Panthers' chance to serve notice. Coach Dave Griffith and his girls have looked forward to this game since last March, when they lost to Arundel, 72-46, in the Class 4A East Region semifinals.

The game will be height vs. quickness, because Annapolis takes an experienced height advantage into the game with returning juniors Emily Dammeyer (6-3), Jackie Edwards (6-2) and Kammi Cottrell (6-1).

The Wildcats will counter with the quickness of their guards, Sherice Proctor and Megan Rollins, and senior swing player LaChelle McHenry.

Boys game: Can host Arundel slow down the Panthers, whose motto is "84 feet for 32 minutes." Annapolis, of course, loves to run. The Wildcats, who kept up with the Panthers in recent years, now play more methodically under rookie coach V. J. Keith.

High-percentage shots from the perimeter by Arundel's Jamell Miller and Joe Parker will be vital because Annapolis figures to control the paint with 6-foot-7 forwards Germaine "Boo" Diggs, Brian Barber and Tony Smith.

More big games

At 5: 30 p.m. Thursday, the Annapolis boys play host to unbeaten and much-improved Severna Park (3-0), with the girls playing at 7: 30 p.m.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, the No. 16 Meade girls visit defending North Division champion Old Mill.

At 8 p.m. next Saturday, the Severna Park boys, led by Greg Korwek and Todd Poorman, can walk to their game at Severn. It's great that the two neighbors started playing last year, but playing at Severn has one problem: The bandbox gym seats only about 50 people. (Just kidding. It's more like a few hundred, which still means a lot of people in that community will be turned away.)

Got an idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-Hour Sportsline, (410) 647-2499.

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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