1998-99 Anne Arundel County girls basketball previews

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Annapolis Area Christian Eagles

1997-98 record: 15-8

Coach: Bob Topp

Top players: Stephanie Cole, 5-5, Sr., G; Jessi Seep, 5-5, Sr., G; Lizi Singleton, 5-6, Sr., F; Hillary Bartlett, 5-6, Sr., F; Kelly Ferguson, 5-10, Sr., C.

Outlook: Returning are five seniors who started at one point last season. Topp doesn't see any one player picking up the 18 points a game graduated-center Gina Brown averaged last season but is confident his group can make up the difference. Point-guard Cole, the captain, must shoot more, and Ferguson, who averaged 8 points and 9 rebounds last season, has added a medium-range jumper to her game. With improved speed, the Eagles will play a lot of man defense and run when possible. Depth comes in a strong sophomore class that features Emiley Boone, Heather Thompson and Chelsea Thomas. Previously independent, the Eagles will play in the new, five-team Chesapeake Women's Athletic Conference.

Annapolis Panthers

1997-98 record: 19-6

Coach: Dave Griffith

Top players: Jessica White, 5-10, Sr., F; Tanisha Calhoun, 6-0, Jr., F; Caitlin Stone, 5-8, Sr., F; Acacia Walker, 5-6, So., G; Sherika Adams, 5-7, So., G; Maurica Simms, 5-6, So., G.

Outlook: No county team was hit harder by graduation than the Panthers, who lost all five starters. Griffith has hisyoungest team in eight seasons, the last six as head coach. "We'll go back to fundamentals starting over and teaching. It's just a matter of working with them. We'll take our lumps early and, hopefully, over the course of the season get better," he said. The Eagles are more of a guard-oriented team with Walker, Adams and Simms providing quickness. "We'll rely more on a transition game and try to force the other team into making mistakes," said Griffith. White and Calhoun will be counted on to take care of the work inside with Stone adding athleticism at forward.

Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

1997-98 record: 17-14

Coach: Deb Taylor

Top players: Amy Campion, 6-0, Sr., G; Lauren Schaech, 5-8, Jr., G; Leslie Juengst, 5-8, Jr., G/F; Carlisa Howard, 5-6, Jr., G; Amy Altig, 5-8, So., F.

Outlook: The Cavaliers won 11 more games last winter than during the previous season. Taylor has a deep and talented, guard-heavy team to build on that success this season. It starts with floor-leader Campion, who averaged seven points, five assists and six rebounds last season. "Amy's playing great. She's seeing the floor well and getting her teammates involved. You can tell she's a senior," said Taylor, who unlike last season has no go-to player. "We don't have a lot of size, so we'll look to run and press, getting some easy shots in transition. We have 13 girls who can play, a ton of guards, and every kid brings something different to the table," said Taylor, who expects Schaech to provide a fine all-around game. Four freshmen made varsity, and two -- 5-11 center Kylie Bestul and 5-8 guard LaToya Strong -- are expected to start.

Arundel Wildcats

1997-98 record: 24-4

Coach: Lee Rogers

Top players: Meagan Rollins, 5-8, Sr., G; Shaunte Edmonds, 6-3, Sr., C; Jill Marano, 5-8, So., G; Lindsey Schiesz, 5-11, Sr., F; Najimah Fauntleroy, 6-0, So., F; Breanna Kitchen, 5-11, Sr., F.

Outlook: The Wildcats reached the Class 4A state final game for the third time in four years last season, falling to Prince George's County's Suitland, 66-61. With a nucleus from that team returning, Rogers hopes for another trip in March. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we'll shape up," he said. Rollins, who earned first-team All-County honors after averaging 16 a game, will assume some of graduated Player of the Year Sherice Proctor's duties. The emergence of Marano also will help. Edmonds, who became a force last season, is "well ahead of last year's pace," said Rogers. Kitchen and Schiesz provide the Wildcats with leadership, solid defense and rebounding. Fauntleroy becomes a starter.

Broadneck Bruins

1997-98 record: 6-18

Coach: Bruce Springer

Top players: Jill Toomey, 5-10, Sr., C; Lauren Peck, 5-10, Sr., G; M.J. Pruner, 5-6, Sr., G; Rachel Shuck, 5-5, Jr., G; Laura Brino, 5-11, So., C; Diana Davidson, 5-6, So., G.

Outlook: The Bruins return six with their three seniors -- Toomey, Peck and Pruner -- a good starting point to get things turned around. Springer hopes defensive intensity can translate into easy baskets. Toomey, who averaged eight points and 10 rebounds as a junior, will be relied on heavily underneath. Peck, in her fourth varsity season, will key the Bruins' perimeter game after averaging eight points a game last year. Pruner adds athleticism. Shuck will handle the point. "We have to attack the basket with our quicknesss, because we don't have a lot of size. It'll also be important to get on a roll early," said Springer. Brino and Davidson also saw varsity time last season and Springer plans to go deep into his bench with junior guard Michelle Lare and sophomore forwards Nicole Barr and Rachael Hack expected to contribute.

Chesapeake Cougars

1997-98 record: 9-14

Coach: Jerry McBee

Top players: Kristen Bland, 5-9, Sr., F; Kareem Falcon, 5-3, Sr., G; Jen Browning, 5-7, Sr., F; Jessica Barrett, 5-3, Sr., G; Nicole Pearman, 5-7, Jr., F; Tevanna Reid, 5-6, Jr., G.

Outlook: Bland, who averaged nine points and nine rebounds last year, will have a larger role, but the Cougars will have to spread out scoring this season and rely more on their athleticism. Count on more of a perimeter game from the Cougars with improved play from Falcon at the point and Reid's outside shooting a couple keys. "Kareem has worked extremely hard in the summer on her skills and is handling the ball much better. And Reid has a nice outside shot. She's efficient from the three-point line," said McBee. Junior forward Justine Wagner is also expected to see plenty of quality time.

Glen Burnie Gophers

1997-98 record: 3-18

Coach: Vickie Plitt

Top players: Jennifer DeWitt, 5-7, Jr., G; Essence Greer, 5-9, Fr., G; Alicia Carr, 5-11, Fr., F; Jessica Griffith, 5-6, Fr., G; Kelly Warner, 5-7, Jr., G; Tonya Spencer, 5-10, Jr., F.

Outlook: A promising freshman class that Plitt is confident can contribute immediately has hopes high at Glen Burnie for the present and the future. Greer and Carr are likely to start with Griffith a key performer off the bench. "This is the most talented freshman class I've had since I've been here," said Plitt, in her third season. "We're quick and talented, and we'll look to press a lot of teams. It's very important to establish strong fundamentals." Plitt is counting on DeWitt, a three-year starter coming off knee surgery, to be the Gophers' floor leader. "She has a lot of game experience. She's the quarterback of our program who's pushing the younger players," said Plitt. Spencer will take care of rebounding with help from Carr. "The attitude is up, and the desire is high to keep things going in the right #F direction," said Plitt. Another newcomer is assistant coach Dan Magnum, a former North County boys assistant.

Meade Mustangs

1997-98 record: 21-5

Coach: Phil Popielski

Top players: Katie Netherton, 6-3, Sr., C; Angie Creek, 5-8, Sr., G; Nicole Dailey, 6-1, So., F/G; LaTanya Eldridge, 5-11, Jr., F/G; Merideth Poehlman, 6-2, Jr., C; Julie Armitage, 5-9, Sr., G/F; Morgan Gunn, 5-4, Sr., G; Brandy Fowler, 5-4, Sr., G.

Outlook: The Mustangs have a wealth of depth and talent to challenge Arundel for county and Class 4A East region supremacy. All-Metro Creek (17.7 points a game as a junior) leads a backcourt that gets more help with the addition of Texas transfer Fowler, who Popielski said fits at the point and immediately got teammates' respect, being chosen a captain. Gunn is a relentless defender. "Those are the three quickest people around. We'll look to push the ball up and exploit some things with them," said Popielski. The frontcourt has size and versatility that will be difficult to match. Netherton added more to her already solid game from last season, when she averaged seven points and close to nine rebounds. Dailey and Eldridge can get out and run or post up. Poehlman and Armitage are two other regulars with plenty of varsity experience. Popielski is paying special attention to conditioning, and the Mustangs will get tested early with Northern-Calvert, Largo, Riverdale Baptist and Class 4A state champ Suitland on the non-league schedule.

North County Knights

1997-98 record: 3-17

Coach: Sally Entsminger

Top players: Caitlin Burns, 5-4, So. G; Stephanie Watts, 5-6, So., G; Amy Ambrozewicz, 5-11, Jr., F; Miranda Cole, 5-3, Jr., G; Sarah Weammert, 5-9, Jr., F; Page Macey, 5-6, So., G; Brittany Boyd, 6-1, Fr., C.

Outlook: The guard-oriented Knights will try to use their quicknesss and athleticism, playing man defense and getting down the floor as fast as possible on offense. Burns will be at point with Entsminger counting on Watts to pick up where she left off at the end of last season as a steady scorer. "Stephanie can take it to the basket to get us points. We called her up from the JV at the end of last season and won three games," said Entsminger. Macey, Cole and Brown, the team's only senior, give the Knights more talent in the backcourt with Ambrozewicz and Weammert the primary inside options. Brittany Boyd, a 6-1 freshman center, also will see time down low. Entsminger said big factors for the Knights will be limiting turnovers and getting consistent rebounding.

Northeast Eagles

1997-98 record: 5-18

Coach: Clarence Tennell

Top players: Tiffany Parker, 5-5, Sr., G; Cassidy Tivvis, 5-9, Sr., F; Amanda Shiflett, 5-7, Sr., F; Melissa Bothoff, 5-9, Sr., C; Erin Gray, 5-7, So. G.

Outlook: A number of players have enjoyed success with the Eagles' soccer and/or softball teams. Tennell is hoping the winning mentality will rub off, and, with seven seniors and five juniors, he feels now is the time. "All the pieces are in place. It's just a matter of staying disciplined," he said. Parker, a standout striker on the soccer field, will use her explosive quicknesss to get to the basket as shooting guard, where she averaged 11 points a game last season. Gray, a three-sport standout, will be the point guard. The Eagles lack front-court size, but have hard workers. Tivvis is the focal point after averaging nine points and 11 rebounds last season. "The girls have come a long way. Last year was a learning process, and hopefully, we can build from that and be more competitive," said Tennell.

Old Mill Patriots

1997-98 record: 11-11

Coach: Craig White

Top players: Lisa Feeheley, 5-10, Sr., G/F; Jameelah Miller, 5-10, Sr., C; Cassandra Edward, 5-9, Jr., F; Jamila Guyton, 5-8, So., F/G; Remica Wilmot, 5-10, Jr., F; Lindsey Smith, 5-5, So., G.

Outlook: White, in his second season, likes the scenario as the Patriots build on their .500 season of a year ago. It starts with Feeheley, who brings leadership, court savvy and 19.5 points a game from last season. Around her is more size up front -- enabling her to play farther away from the basket -- and a promising group of sophomores and freshmen she will help improve. "Lisa keeps the enthusiasm up and sets the tone with her work ethic. That helps the younger players out a lot," said White. "She's expanded her range and can score from all over the floor." Miller is a physical inside presence and will get help from a strong group of underclassmen who improved their games over the summer. Four freshmen -- led by forward Catline Engle -- came in with a good understanding of the game. "The second year of a program is always supposed to be better than the first. We want to be competitive every game and a step better than last year," said White.

St. Mary's Saints

1997-98 record: 25-8

Coach: Harry Dobson

Top players: Emily Lipton, 5-6, Sr., G; Maria Smear, 5-10, Sr., G; Terri Daniels, 5-11, Sr., F; Felicia Holloway, 6-2, Sr., C; Amy Mulligan, 5-8, Sr., F.

Outlook: Lipton, Smear and Daniels -- all four-year starters -- would like nothing better than to cap their stellar careers with a Catholic League tournament championship. After going 14-0 in league play last season, the Saints were upset by Mercy in the tournament semifinals in their bid to repeat as tournament champs. The Saints' big three each bring something different to the floor. Lipton, a two-time All-Metro first teamer who became the school's first underclassman to surpass the 1,000-point plateau, is the offensive catalyst who averaged 17 points, five assists and four steals. Smear is the defensive stopper who is also the Saints' best perimeter shooter. Daniels (eight points, seven assists and eight rebounds) can go inside or outside. Another key will be improved play of Holloway inside. Mulligan and guards Toby McIntyre and Lauren Bonnani provide depth.

Severn School Admirals

1997-98 record: 9-11

Coach: Pat Becker

Top players: Lina Contestabile, 5-10, Jr., F; Carrie Staines, 5-8, Sr., F; Nikita Wilson, 5-1, Jr., G; Naomi Harrison, 5-11, Sr., F; Colleen Knapp, 5-2, Sr., G; Lauren Gall, 5-11, Jr., F.

Outlook: Becker, who replaces former coach Maurice Jennings, brings 23 years of coaching experience with stints at Sidwell Friends in Washington, D.C., Bryn Mawr and Mount Hebron. Her expectations? "Work hard and play smart," she said. The Admirals are counting on a balanced attack. Lacking size and quicknesss, Becker is counting on solid execution in a half-court set with some pressing on defense. Wilson will take charge at the point with Gall and Contestabile doing most of the rebounding and scoring when the Admirals look to go inside. Staines and Harrison add versatility with Knapp also being counted on. "This is a great group of kids to work with. We have a well-balanced team and no stars," said Becker.

Severna Park Falcons

1997-98 record: 14-10

Coach: Bill Giblin

Top players: Missy Collison, 5-11, Sr., F; Kim Lawton, 5-8, Jr., G/F; Lauren Huber, 5-8, Sr., G; Natalie Hicks, 5-11, Jr., G.

Outlook: Giblin, who coached at Essex Community College last year, takes over for longtime coach Kevin McGrath, who compiled a 264-126 mark in 17 seasons. With nine returnees, he has a good foundation in place as the Falcons try to build on last year's strong playoff run. Team strengths are depth and smarts, but lack of quicknesss and size should result in a lot of zone defenses and half-court offensive sets. Lawton will do a lot of the inside work with Hicks providing a strong perimeter game. "Kim has a knack for getting open inside, getting the rebounds and she can finish," said Giblin. "Natalie is a slasher who can pull up and shoot." Huber is another perimeter player who can spot and score while junior Meg Miller is another guard who can handle the ball. Collison will play a big role inside with Lawton. The Falcons have some big early-season tests with Mercy, St. Mary's and Seton Keough on the slate.

South River Seahawks

1997-98 record: 12-11

Coach: Dirk Rinehart

Top players: Jessica Freeman, 6-0, Sr., F; Erin Roche, 5-6, Sr., G; Lindsey Roche, 5-6, So., G; Alexandra Sullivan, 5-10, So., F; Danielle Mitchell, 6-2, Sr., F; Meghan Murphy, 5-3, Sr., G.

Outlook: Coming off the Seahawks' first winning season in a decade, third-year coach Rinehart wants to see another step forward. "We have some great components, but the question is, 'Can we get it all together?' That hones in on me as the coach to get them to play together," he said. With six seniors, six sophomores and a freshman, Rinehart is blending some veterans with new faces from their 15-5 JV from last winter. The Seahawks will rely on an up-tempo game with plenty of pressure while they work on half-court play. Freeman, Sullivan and Mitchell provide the Seahawks with good size down low with Erin and Lindsey Roche the catalysts at the guard positions. The Seahawks, who got off to a 7-0 start last season, are looking for a much stronger finish this time.

Southern Bulldogs

1997-98 record: 15-11

Coach: Linda Kilpatrick

Top players: Alicia Groveston, 5-7, Sr., F/G; Jessica Kinnahan, 5-7, Sr., F; Kim Garnett, 5-8, Sr., G/F; Jessica Pott, 5-6, Sr., G; Erika Larson, 5-7, Jr., F; Lyndsey Boswell, 5-6, Jr., G.

Outlook: "We're rebuilding," said Kilpatrick. "We'll use the season to get ready and hopefully by the end of the year, they won't be rookies." Groveston, who averaged 13 points, four assists and was the team's second-leading rebounder a year ago, is the lone starter back. Kilpatrick said it will be important for her returning standout not to try to take on too much. "Alicia is like a coach on the floor. She has good court instincts and will help get people where they need to be. The big key for us will be patience," she said. Lacking size, the Bulldogs will rely on playing scrappy, pressure defense, looking for transition baskets and staying away from a half-court game. Kinnahan, Garnett and Pott are three seniors who should provide support and stability along with Groveston.

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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