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1997-98 Baltimore City boys basketball previews

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Public schools

Carver Bears

1996-97 record: 4-16

Coach: Durce Jackson

Top players: Miguel Wilson, 5-11, Jr., G Tavon McCoy, 5-10, Soph., G; Dwayne Banks, 5-10, Jr., G; Mike Napper, 6-4, Jr., C; Chris Johnson, 6-2, Jr., F

Outlook: The Bears have one of the city's best guards in Wilson, the team's leading scorer last season. Jackson says his team will be guard-oriented because it lacks height. With only three seniors, Carver will be inexperienced but will play tough defense. The Bears should exceed last season's win total but will be hard-pressed to play around .500.

City Knights

1996-97 record: 15-10

Coach: Daryl Wade

Top players: Kenny Carter, 5-8, Sr., G; Warren Smith, 6-4, Sr., F; Austin Baker, 6-6, Jr., C; Dominic Fulcher, 6-3, Sr., F

Outlook: The Knights, who reached the Class 2A state semifinals last season, lost 7-foot center Derrick Goode to Archbishop Spalding. Smith and Carter are returning starters, but City doesn't have much experience. Wade likes his team's quickness, which it will need with a tough non-league schedule and playing in the City East Division.

Douglass Ducks

1996-97 record: 14-8

Coach: Rodney Cofield

Top players: Charles Harris, 6-1, Sr., G; Joe Ison, 6-4, Jr., F; Dominic Little, 6-1, Sr., G; Tony Day, 6-0, Sr., G; Travis Buchanan, 6-4, Jr., F; Michael Stewart, 6-3, Jr., F

Outlook: The Ducks may be ready to challenge Southwestern seriously in the City West Division. Three starters return, including Harris, a second-team All-City/County selection last season. Quickness should create transition baskets, but the Ducks lack depth and size. A tough December schedule, including games with Dunbar, Randallstown, Southwestern and Southern-Baltimore, will test the Ducks immediately.

Dunbar Poets

1996-97 record: 18-7

Coach: Lynn Badham

Top players: Tim Lyles, 5-11, Jr., G; Jamal Brown, 6-6, Jr., C; Donteaz Dean, 6- 5, Jr., F; Arnold Bowie, 6-1, Sr., G/G; Larry Tucker, 6-4, Jr., F

Outlook: For the first time since 1990-91, Dunbar begins a season coming off a loss, by 31 points, to Thomas Johnson in the Class 3A state title game in March. The Poets, who won the Craig Cromwell Summer League, return four starters, led by Lyles, a first-team All-Metro selection last season. Brown, a second-team All-City/County pick, and Dean are promising front-line performers. Badham likes his team's experience and quickness but is unsure about his bench and the Poets' ability to play consistently for 32 minutes.

Edmondson Redskins

1996-97 record: 10-12

Coach: James James

Top players: Mike Jones, 6-3, Soph., F; Jeffrey Page, 5-10, Jr., G; Guy Williams, 6-4, Soph., C; Eddie Colbert, 6-0, Soph., G; Leslie Prince, 6-1, Jr., G

Outlook: The Redskins, despite returning four lettermen, have no seniors. James says his team's rebounding should improve. Edmondson will probably again hover around the .500 mark.

Forest Park Foresters

1996-97 record: 2-16

Coach: Gregory Warren

Top players: Shawn Waller, 5-11, Sr., G; Chris Hurst, 6-2, Sr., F; Tim Beauford, 5-9, Sr., G; Kemar Law, 6-6, Sr., C; Donnell Dobbins, 5-8, Jr., G; Omar Hammond, 5-8, Jr., G; Latron Davis, 6-2, Jr., F

Outlook: Warren becomes the third coach in three seasons for Forest Park, replacing Ronald Covington. Waller is the lone returning starter on a team that is rebuilding and needs discipline. Forest Park may have a difficult time avoiding the bottom of the City West Division.

Lake Clifton Lakers

1996-97 record: 18-5

Coach: Herman Harried

Top players: Rodney Bass, 6-5, Sr., F; Kevin Smith, 6-5, Jr., F; James Harris, 5 -9, Jr., G; Joe Able, 6-2, Sr., F; Brandon Haughton, 6-7, Jr., C

Outlook: Harried, a former assistant at Loyola College and a member of Dunbar's 1984 mythical national championship team, replaces longtime coach Charlie Moore, who retired in September. Bass is the lone starter back, Smith transferred from St. Frances, and Harried expects them to play big roles. Defense and turnovers are concerns, along with players becoming familiar with a new system. It may take awhile for the Lakers to get comfortable, but there's enough talent to make a run with Dunbar and Southern-Baltimore for the City East Division title.

Mervo Mustangs

1996-97 record: 12-12

Coach: Woody Williams

Top players: Hugh Brown, 6-6, Sr., C/F; Melvin Bridges, 6-3, Sr., F; Damian Jennifer, 6-0, Sr., G; Marcus Hatten, 6-2, Jr., G; Tim Wilkins, 6-5, Sr., F

Outlook: Mervo could be a contender in the City East Division. The Mustangs return a solid nucleus, including Brown, Jennifer and Hatten. Williams likes his team's experience but worries about its ability to play with intensity and maturity. If Mervo can do that, it's capable of challenging Dunbar and Lake Clifton in the East.

Northern Vikings

1996-97 record: 10-11

Coach: Paul Holmes

Top players: Donte Pennix, 6-2, Sr., G; Myron Robinson, 6-6, Sr., C; Mike Scott, 5-11, Jr., G; Antron Marshall, 5-11, Jr., G; Shannon Mims, 6-2, Fr., F; Robert Montgomery, 5-6, Soph., G; William Jones, 6-5, Sr., F

Outlook: After a good showing in the Craig Cromwell Summer League, Holmes likes the possibilities. Pennix, Robinson and Jones are each fourth-year varsity performers, and Scott has shown promise at point guard. Holmes says his team has improved depth and rebounders but that defense is a question. Northern should be competitive in the City East Division, but whether that's as a contender remains to be seen.

Northwestern Wildcats

1996-97 record: 13-6

Coach: Doug Robertson

Top players: Edward Cook, 6-3, Sr., F/G; Alan Smith, 6-2, Jr., G; Roland Carmichaels, 6-1, Jr., G; Derek Pack, 6-3, Soph., F; Bryan Daniels, 5-10, Jr., G

Outlook: Robertson, who coached Northwestern in the 1995-96 season, returns. Cook, the lone returning starter, will lead a junior-dominated squad. Robertson says his team will be athletic, but young and small and will have to rely on hustle.

Patterson Clippers

1996-97 record: 9-11

Coach: Larry Alexander

Top players: Damian Richburg, 6-5, Sr., F; Kerney Toomer, 6-4, Sr., F; Nathaniel Mercer, 5-11, Sr., G; Kwame Edwards, 6-1, Jr., G; Justin Harlee, 6-4, Sr., F

Outlook: The Clippers return three regulars. Alexander likes his front line of Toomer, Hawthorne and Mercer and has better depth at guard. Outside of Hawthorne, there isn't much size. The Clippers won't challenge for the City East Division title but will be competitive.

Poly Engineers

1996-97 record: 11-12

Coach: Bucky Kimmett

Top players: Dominic Harrison, 5-10, Jr., G; Sam Brand, 6-1, Jr., G; Jermaine Smith, 6-5, Sr., C/F; Cedric Ward, 6-5, Sr., C/F; Tony Tucker, 6-4, Soph., F; Dwayne Wallace, 6-4, Jr., F; Kendrick Tilghman, 6-3, Jr., F

Outlook: Smith and Ward are returning lettermen. Harrison and Brand move up from the JV. Kimmett says his team has more height and experience, but developing a nucleus will take time. The Engineers will force the tempo and look for the three-point shot. Poly has the potential to be competitive in the City West Division.

Southern Bulldogs

1996-97 record: 10-10

Coach: Meredith Smith

Top players: Charles Scott, 6-1, Sr., G; Isiah Johnson, 6-6, Soph., C; Shawn Lane, 6-3, Soph., F; Colin Murdock, 6-3, Jr., F; Nathaniel Fields, 6-5, Jr., F; Emil Curry, 6-3, Sr., F

Outlook: After finishing with a .500 record and first-round loss to Northern in the Class 4A North region with a young squad, Southern appears ready to bounce back strong. Scott was a first-team All-City/County pick, and Johnson is, maybe, the area's best sophomore. Southern returns four starters. Smith says his team has a blend of speed and athleticism but is still inexperienced. The Bulldogs possibly are the City League's most talented team and, if they continue to mature, should challenge Dunbar and Lake Clifton for the City East Division title.

Southwestern Sabers

1996-97 record: 27-0

Coach: Terry Leverett

Top players: Earl Carr, 6-0, Jr., G/F; Terrell Dantzler, 5-8, Jr., G; Marcus Oliver, 6-0, Sr., G; Jamal Johnson, 6-4, Jr. F; Lewis Townes, 5-10, Sr., G; Artemus Neal, 5-5, Jr., G

Outlook: The Sabers enjoyed a magical season last year, winning the City title and the Class 4A state championship, but return only one starter, Carr. The Sabers have a bevy of quick guards, including Dantzler, who contributed in big situations last season. Leverett is concerned about the Sabers being complacent and lacking leadership, but they will play tough, aggressive defense. Southwestern may be find it hard to repeat last season's success, but if the Sabers come together, they could be in the City championship game for a third straight season.

Walbrook Warriors

1996-97 record: 13-10

Coach: Gus Herrington

Top players: Hubert Thorpe, 6-1, Sr., G; Derrick Thompson, 6-0, Sr., G; Troy Waddell, 6-1, Jr., G; Eric Hinton, 6-2, Sr., F; Jefferson Bolden, 5-10, Soph., G; Makail Mudbi, 6-2, Jr., F; Damian Cornick, 5-8, Jr., G; Ivan Wilson, 6-7, Jr., C

Outlook: The Warriors return two starters in Thompson and Thorpe, but there isn't much experience after them. Hinton may be the guard-oriented Warriors' best athlete. Herrington, who likes his team's attitude, says it will have to scrap to be competitive. The Warriors could be the team to give Southwestern and Douglass a push in the City West Division.

Private schools

Archbishop Curley Friars

1996-97 record: 18-10

Coach: Dan Popera

Top players: Brian Hubbard, 6-2, Sr., F; Chuck Fuller, 5-10, Sr., G; Nick Murphy, 6-0, Sr., F; Brian Montoya, 5-9, Sr., PG; Michael Brice, 6-3, Sr., C.

Outlook: Seven players return to this team, which Popera said has looked good early, relying less on the press and more on simple hard-nosed defense. The Achilles' heel could be a lack of height.

Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders

1996-97 record: 7-23

Coach: Bryan Moorhouse

Top players: Brandon Jones, 6-0, Sr., G; Gil Goodrich, 5-8, Soph., G; Charles Franz, 6-1, Sr., G; Brandon Rhinehart, 6-4, Sr., F; Jared Silberzahn, 5-9, Sr., G; Antonio DeShields, 6-3, Jr., C

Outlook: After suffering its worst season since the program's first in 1964-65, Cardinal Gibbons has nowhere to go but up in 1997-98. Jones was a second-team All-Catholic pick last season, and Goodrich set the school's freshman record for three-pointers in a season. Moorhouse likes his backcourt, but the keys will be rebounding and defense. The Crusaders should be able to surpass last season's win total and ascend to the middle of the Catholic League.

Friends Quakers

1996-97 record: 11-12

Coach: Randy Cooper

Top players: Brett Benjamin, , 6-0, So., G; Kyle Harrison, 5-10, Fr., PG; John Cronin, 6-6, Jr., C; C.J. Nixon, 6-4, Jr., C; Greg Kelly, 6-0, Sr., F.

Outlook: With just one returnee, the Quakers enter this season with essentially last year's JV squad. Benjamin, last season's starting point guard, moves to shooting guard, with Harrison, a freshman, running the offense. Friends will benefit from a move to the MIAA C Conference.

Gilman Greyhounds

1996-97 record: 11-12

Coach: Tony Jordan

Top players: Chisolm Opara, 6-3, Jr., F; Matt McLamb, 6-3, Sr., G; Andrew Farone, 6-0, Jr., G.

Outlook: Things are looking up for the Greyhounds, who lost to McDonogh in the first round of the MIAA B Conference Tournament. Despite the return of only one starter, they appear to be quicker and more talented. The addition of 6-5 Frank Wooten should be a rebounding help.

Greater Grace Crusaders

1996-97 record: 16-8

Coach: Pat Lynch

Top players: Eddie Widgeon, 6-1, Sr., F; Nate Gorham, 5-8, Jr., PG; Jamie Williams, 6-6, Sr., C; Matt Sliva, 5-8, Jr., G; Mike Herzog, 5-11, Sr., G.

Outlook: With the scoring of Widgeon (12.6 points a game) and Gorham (10.4) and the rebounding of Aberdeen transfer Williams, the Crusaders should once again contend for a Maryland Christian Athletic League title. A year ago, they finished second but were upset in the tournament semifinals.

Mount St. Joseph Gaels

1996-97 record: 22-10

Coach: Pat Clatchely

Top players: James Baronas, 6-9, Sr., C; Torrey Butler, 6-3, Sr., F; Aaron Goode, 5-11, Sr., G; Sean Johnson, 6-7, Jr., F; B.J. Romanowski, 5-8, Sr., G; Howard Randall, 6-0, Sr., G; Calvin Dotson, 6-0, Sr., G

Outlook: The Gaels may have the Catholic League's most experienced team, returning 10 lettermen. Butler, an honorable mention All-Catholic League pick, was the team's most consistent player last season and, along with Baronas and Johnson, provides one of the area's best front lines. Clatchely says his backcourt is versatile, but he isn't sure about the half-court offense. The blend of size and experience makes the Gaels a Catholic League contender.

Our Lady of Pompei Lions

1996-97 record: 8-8

Coach: Zook Rossano

Top players: Eric Stickline, 6-1, Jr., F; Max Okoye, 6-5, So., C; Joe Moranto, 5-10, Jr., G; John Villapondo, 5-10, Sr., PG; John Check, 6-3, Jr., F.

tTC Outlook: This team might be dangerous. Not only does Stickline (25.5 points a game) return, but newcomer Okoye appears to have big-time potential. If the Lions get solid play from their backcourt, they could be tough to beat.

St. Frances Panthers

1996-97 record: 32-7

Coach: William Wells

Top players: Shawn Hampton, 6-8, Sr., C/F; David Manigault, 6-1, Sr., G; Demetrius Charles, 5-11, Sr., G; Brandon Reese, 6-7, Sr., F/C; Tim Payne, 6-6, Soph., F; Jamal Brunt, 6-2, Jr., G

Outlook: The Panthers, winners of the last three Catholic League championships, will be led by Hampton, a first-team All-Metro selection last season who is the area's premier senior. Hampton, with transfers Reese (Overlea) and Payne (Carver), gives the Panthers a strong front line. Wells is a little concerned about point guard but feels this may be his most talented offensive team. Another question is how the Panthers will respond in pressure situations, but a run at a fourth straight Catholic League title is possible.

Baltimore County

Gwynn Lake Lakers

1996-97 record: 25-3

Coach: Donchez Graham

Top players: Rasheed Betts, 6-6, Sr., F-G; Pierre Briggs, 6-5, Sr., F-C; Adam Arbor, 6-3, Sr., G; Eric Shorts, 6-8, Jr., C-F; Tremain Rowles, 6-5, Jr., G-F.

Outlook: After breezing through lighter competition last season, the Lakers will attempt to move to the next level. To get there, however, they will have to take on an independent schedule filled with the likes of national powers Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, Mount Zion (N.C.) Christian and Strawberry Mansion (Pa.). The nucleus of the team returns, including Betts (14 points a game.) and Briggs (18.5 rpg.).

Preseason Top 20

1. Dunbar

2. St. Frances

3. Southern-Baltimore

4. Lake Clifton

5. Southwestern

6. Mount St. Joseph

7. Randallstown

8. Towson Catholic

9. Calvert Hall

10. Douglass

11. Woodlawn

12. Loyola

13. Archbishop Spalding

14. Annapolis

15. Edgewood

16. Broadneck

17. Long Reach

18. Mervo

19. Chesapeake-AA

20. McDonogh

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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