Never has Anne Arundel County boys basketball had such holiday season success with six teams winning tournaments, another finishing runner-up in a national tournament, and two others winning consolation games.
County boys teams had a chance to win nine tournaments, and the six championships is the most ever.
Archbishop Spalding (11-2) distinguished its program by nearly winning the prestigious King Cotton Classic in Pine Bluff, Ark.
The Cavaliers lost a 64-61 heart-breaker to USA Today's No. 7-ranked White County High (13-0) of Sparta, Tenn., in the final, but the showing propelled Spalding to The Sun's No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history.
Annapolis (Cap City Classic), Meade (Meade Christmas Tournament), Old Mill (Wes Unseld Classic), Severn (Craig O'Connell Tournament), Southern (Northern-Calvert Tournament) and Chesapeake (Bob Pascal Tournament) all captured titles. Severna Park (York Invitational) and Arundel (High Point Tournament) won consolation games.
Baltimore City basketball has worn the mantle as the metro area's king of basketball for quite some time, but in a season when city caliber might be down a bit, Anne Arundel has clearly emerged as a power.
It's an unfamiliar position for Anne Arundel, which ranks third in state titles (seven) in the metro area but has only one crown in the 1990s, that Annapolis' Class 4A win in 1990.
Since joining the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and playing in the state tournaments since 1993, the city has claimed 11 state titles, more than any other metro locale.
The MPSSAA state tournaments began way back in 1927 with single overall champs continuing until 1939 (no tournaments were played during World War II, 1940-46). In 1947, the state started using four competitive classifications based on school enrollment, switching to three from 1950 to 1960, and then in 1961, back to the current four.
Baltimore County, with state titles by Catonsville (1928) and Franklin (1948), is second to Baltimore City with nine state crowns, four coming during the 1990s. Harford County follows Anne Arundel with six, Howard County is fifth with four and Carroll County is last with one, Westminster (1947).
Just two years ago, Anne Arundel County had no teams in the boys state final four. Last season, Class 4A state runner-up Annapolis was the only county team to qualify.
The county girls, who normally do better, managed to win three holiday events. St. Mary's (IAABO Invitational), Meade (McDonough Tournament) and Northeast (Chesapeake Tournament) all won championships.
Walter gets national honor
Arundel High's Bernie Walter, in 1998 The Sun's 1998 Metro Baseball Coach of the Year for a record fourth time, has been selected as the American Baseball Coaches Association Diamond Sports Division II National Coach of the Year.
With more than 5,000 members, ABCA is the world's largest baseball coaches association. Members include college, high school and sandlot coaches.
Walter, who led his top-ranked Wildcats (22-4) to a Maryland-record eighth state championship last spring and state-record 12th appearance in the final four, received the award at the coaching organization's annual banquet on Jan. 2 in Atlanta.
The award was Walter's fourth national Coach of the Year honor since 1975. In 1991, he received the Easton Sports Master National Coach of the Year award, which goes beyond wins and losses, citing coaches for their contributions to baseball. And he was honored by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association and National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches in 1993 and 1996, respectively.
Walter, also Arundel's athletic director, is Anne Arundel County's all-time winningest coach, with a record of 427-117 (.785) over 25 seasons.
Dave Griffith has been replaced as Annapolis girls basketball coach by his 23-year-old son, Matt Griffith. The elder Griffith, a former Anne Arundel County police officer, must undergo back surgery but hopes to return to coaching next season.
One of the best holiday efforts was by Severna Park's Ayyub Ali, who set a York, Pa., tournament record for points in a single period (14) and tied the total points record (59) for two games. His 35 points against host York in the Falcons' 66-63 consolation win was the third highest in 10 years.
Derek Dixon, a transfer student now at Severna Park, might make a noticeable impact on the school's baseball program. Dixon, who came from Riverdale Baptist at mid-semester, is a junior outfielder considered a pro prospect. Last summer, Dixon led the national 16-year old champion Maryland Orioles in homers (16) and stolen bases (25).
With Dixon joining All-Metro returnee Tony Dokoupil and Dave Weber, Severna Park's outfield just became one of the metro area's best. Dixon could set all kinds of records in the Falcons' homer-friendly park.
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Pub Date: 1/07/99