Boys Player of Year
John Ely, South Carroll, Sr., G: The key player for the Cavaliers, he was the second leading scorer in the county (19.7 average), producing three of the top four individual efforts in the process (all in the 30s), despite drawing special attention from opposing coaches. He worked against a variety of defenses -- including double-teams -- and the team was at its best when he was able to complement his scoring with good ball-handling and distribution and got some scoring help. He averaged 2.3 steals and was third in the county in three-point percentage, making a third of his 153 attempts. He had percentages of 46 for field goals (led county with 167 made) and 73 for foul shooting. A two-time All-County selection, he was the leading vote-getter for the All-Central Maryland Conference team. He combines his athletic talent with academic excellence, with a 3.98 average and a SAT score of 1290. "The main thing for me was to get the others involved," he said.
Boys Coach of Year
Jeff Cook, Francis Scott Key: The ninth-year coach could be excused if he thought, "Finally," after his Eagles gave him his first winning season at 13-9. A long way from Cook's first year of 1-21, this team was in control for much of the season, winning its first seven, then fashioning a pair of three-game winning streaks around a loss. The winning season was assured in early February, and the team stretched its record to 13-4, before running into paybacks from three Monocacy Valley Athletic League teams it had beaten earlier. Key capped its slide with the season's third loss to North Hagerstown in the regional quarterfinals. The winning season was not unexpected, as the Eagles had nine seniors, including 1997 All-County first-teamer Kevin DeCarlo, who, with Josh Hollman, gave the team an inside-outside scoring punch.
The boys first team
Desmond Esteves, Westminster, senior, guard: This third-year starter was the catalyst for what was a streaky Owls team -- they won seven in a row in December, four straight in January, and rode a closing three-game string to the county championship (6-0). The point guard used his quickness and agility not only on defense but to work inside as well as get free for long-range shots. He averaged 12.1 points, and led the county in assists (5.8) and steals (3.6). He shot 38 percent from outside the arc while making 34 of his attempts. Only Carroll Christian's John Brunson and Roger Davenport made more free throws than his 68, and he had a percentage of 69. Backed by its late success, Westminster was the surprise of the Class 4A East regional, beating Old Mill and Glen Burnie to reach the final, before losing to visiting Annapolis in overtime.
Josh Hollman, Francis Scott Key, Sr., G: The key ingredient to the Eagles' winning record, he averaged 13.3 points while making 44 percent of his field goal attempts. There were 38 three-pointers (36 percent), and he added 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals. "He was definitely our floor leader," coach Jeff Cook declared, "whether it was games or practices. He attacked every practice the way he did a game, and worked overtime on the things that would make him better. Tough defense and strong passing, in addition to his scoring, made him a good all-around player." Key went out in the first round of the regionals.
Aaron Krug, Westminster, Sr. G: The county's No. 4 scorer (15.3) was second in three-point work with 56 made for 43 percent. He had a high game of 26 points against Glenelg in a Christmas tournament win. With Esteves and Sean Davis, completed a senior threesome that could dominate a game from the outside (combined to make 39 percent of shots outside the arc), play intense defense, and hit from the foul line (combined to make 74 percent). They were the Owls' top three scorers in 18 of 25 games. Krug joins Esteves as a two-time first team All-County and All-Central Maryland Conference selection.
Robbie Vaughn, North Carroll, Sr., G: The county's third-leading scorer (16.1), with a high of 27 in a loss at Thomas Johnson, was the Panthers' top scorer in all but six games of a 7-16 season. A strong all-around player, he backed his scoring with 2.7 assists, and contributed 5.4 rebounds. He led the county in three-pointers with 65 (of 174 for 37 percent). Overall, he had percentages of 41 from the field and 68 from the foul line.
Girls Player of Year
Jessica Matos, Francis Scott Key, Sr., F: Providing senior experience and leadership, she helped guide the Eagles to a 17-7 record in their first Class 2A season. The Class 1A champions of a year ago built this year's group around Matos and junior point guard Sindi Stem. Matos responded with a county runner-up 13.1 scoring average off a county-high 120 field goals; No. 3 field goal percentage of 38; and a county-leading free throw percentage of 69. She was third in rebounding, 7.6. The highlight of Key's season was inflicting what turned out to be the only Middletown loss (until the state final), 51-45. The Eagles went on to defeat North Hagerstown and Walkersville on the regional road before losing the final at home against Middletown.
Girls Coach of Year
David Trumbo, Liberty: Certainly, there was little preseason indication the Lions would end three seasons of misery, including a winless 1995-96, come up with the most wins (10) since 1990-91, and win the county championship (5-1). There were some holdovers from past seasons, but even some of them had to be talked into coming out. What Trumbo did have was some athletes who were used to winning in other sports, particularly soccer stars Michelle Allen and Colleen Cox. Trumbo, the team's fourth coach in as many years, promised stability and usually added that it was not a tough spot, because he figured there wasn't anything to hurt. Instead, he brought the same work ethic for himself and his players that had earned him the county Coach of the Year honor for volleyball in the fall. The squad of 11 had only two seniors, putting in place a solid foundation for the future.
The girls first team
Michelle Allen, Liberty, Soph., G: Showing dramatic improvement over a freshman season, she cut her turnovers in half and jumped her scoring to 11.7 (with Cox and Matos, the only county players to average in double figures), and was second in the county in assists (3.3) and steals (4.1). "She relishes challenges," says Trumbo, "and she had a lot of them because coaches tried to take her out of games while giving Cox her points."
Colleen Cox, Liberty, Jr., G: Ready to give up the game after last year, she returned because she knew her friends wanted her to play. This "family" attitude was the chemistry around which this team was molded. She went on to lead the county in scoring (14.8), had three of the top six scoring efforts (all 22 points plus) and led the county in field goal percentage (40), with the second most attempts (107). Additionally, she was third in free-throw shooting percentage (67). "She became excited again," Trumbo said. "After two years of toiling and getting nothing, she had someone to complement her [Allen] and became our finisher."
Kyrica Frisby, Westminster, Jr., G: One of three junior standouts (with Cathy Frame and Kallie Smith) who took turns leading the Owls, they had their team in contention for the county championship until losing to Liberty in the last week of the season. She averaged 9.7 points and led her side in scoring in two-thirds of its regular-season starts.
Sindi Stem, Francis Scott Key, Jr., G: The point guard, who prided herself on distributing the ball and playing tough defense, led in assists (4.3) and steals (4.8) and gave this first team a clean sweep of the top five scoring places with a mark of 9.2. Coach Alice Smith, who had to make up for the loss of three senior stars from last year's title-winner, began with the two holdovers, Matos and Stem. The latter energized the Eagles with her spirit, hustle, and determination.
The Baltimore Sun 1997-98 All-Carroll County boys and girls basketball teams were selected by John W. Stewart after consulting with The Sun staff and area coaches.
Pub Date: 3/17/98