Player of the Year
Josh Gross, Long Reach: Few players possess the versatility of the 6-foot-5 Gross, who was an effective scorer in the post, but also possessed the ability to step out and hit jump shots from anywhere on the floor. Gross, a first-team All-County selection last season, like all great players proved his dominance when matched against the best, hitting for a career-high 34 points while grabbing 10 rebounds against River Hill's 6-10 center Kevin Steenberge in an important 77-73 Lightning win. On the year, Gross averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds a game, carrying Long Reach to a share of the county championship. Much of the reason for the Lightning's success was its ability to win close games, where Gross' abilities took over. In a tight road contest against Glenelg during the first half of the season, Gross scored six points in the final minute to lead a comeback victory. Gross also averaged 3.4 blocks and 2.8 steals a game. "Josh is a very coachable kid," said Long Reach coach Al Moraz. "He comes to play every night. Without him, I think we'd have been about a .500 team at best. In 30 years of coaching, he's one of the best players I've every had."
Coach of the Year
Jeremy Snyder, Glenelg: It's not easy to be one of the youngest coaches in the league and also become one of the most respected, but Snyder has certainly earned that distinction. Two years ago, the Gladiators didn't win a single game in the county, but this year, Glenelg (11-13) not only beat both county co-champs, Long Reach and Centennial, but became one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season, reaching the 1A South Region final before losing to Oakland Mills on a last-second jumper. "I think Jeremy epitomizes the kind of qualities you look for in a good coach," said Dave Appleby, Oakland Mills coach of 19 years. "Not only is he a good strategist, but he's also very skilled in some of the team-building things and making sure his players take care of their off-the-court responsibilities. He deserves a lot of credit for what he's building at Glenelg. He's emerging and growing before our eyes." Of course, Snyder might not even be the best coach in his immediate family. His wife, Kelly, a field hockey coach at Long Reach, has taken her team to the state finals two years in a row.
The first team
Scott Kincaid, Centennial: An excellent shooter and one of the league leaders in steals, Kincaid led a balanced Centennial squad in scoring, helping the Eagles grab at least a share of the county title for the second year in a row. Kincaid, a senior, seemed to play his best in big games, scoring 19 points against Howard to keep the Eagles in the hunt late in the season, and 23 against Long Reach in an important win. Kincaid and teammate Brian O'Connor combined to form the league's best backcourt, terrorizing opponents with ball pressure, outside shooting and drives to the hoop. Kincaid averaged 14.1 points a game, but most impressively, he played the last half of the season with a broken foot, a well-kept secret at Centennial. "If he doesn't play, we don't win the county," said Eagles coach Jim Hill. "Scott showed a lot of grit and heart for us."
LaMar Parrish, Howard: Parrish, a senior who also was a first-team All-County selection in football for the Lions, was one of the quickest players in the league, and one of its fiercest competitors. The 6-foot guard averaged 16 points a game and handed out 3.1 assists, but numbers don't tell the true story. Parrish helped revive a program that had experienced several losing seasons and a coaching dispute at the start of this year. His play helped the Lions contend for a title into the final weeks of the season. When he was hitting from the outside, Parrish was electric, because his cross-over dribble was one of the toughest to defend in the county. He scored 25 points in a win over Oakland Mills, 23 against South Carroll, 23 against River Hill, and 24 in a playoff loss to Central.
Chris Bowen, Glenelg: Likely the most complete player in the league, Bowen averaged 16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 4.1 steals a game for the Gladiators, and was an excellent defender and transition player. A first-team selection at tight end in football who boasts a 3.5 GPA, the 6-3 Bowen's best sport may be baseball, where he is a standout pitcher being recruited by the University of Maryland. His leadership and 20 points helped Glenelg go on the road and knock off top-seeded South Hagerstown, 54-53, in the 1A South Region semifinal, its biggest win of the season. Bowen scored 33 points against Wilde Lake and 25 in a win over Centennial, Glenelg's first over the Eagles in two years. His best game, however, may have been his 17-point, 13-rebound, six-assist effort against Long Reach on the final day of the county season, resulting in a 54-53 Glenelg win that forced the Lightning to share the league crown with Centennial.
Eric Toback, Mount Hebron: One of Howard County's best players for two years running, Toback spent the year as a marked man, often drawing triple-teams, but still managed to average 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. He also shot an impressive 80 percent from the free-throw line. A strong inside presence at 6-6, Toback also possessed the ability to step out and hit the jumper, making him on of the toughest defensive assignments. On a team that stressed ball control and low scores, Toback many times scored half his team's points, but was an unselfish leader for the Vikings who also holds a 3.6 GPA. His season highlights included scoring 28 and 25 in two games against Glenelg, 24 against Oakland Mills and 25 in a double-overtime, 61-60 win at River Hill. Toback also joined an elite club in Howard County this seson, scoring 1,000 points for his career, the first to do so since Murray Graves did it for Oakland Mills in 1999.
Kevin Steenberge, River Hill: Perhaps more than any player, the 6-10 Steenberge seemed to get better each game, starting the season as a solid rebounder and shot-blocker, and finishing the year as a dominant scorer and inside presence, helping the Hawks win eight straight games. Only a junior, Steenberge is already getting mountains of letters and interest from a number of colleges, among them Southern California and UCLA. Steenberge averaged 15 points a game, and was one of the Baltimore area's top rebounders, pulling down 15.0 boards a contest. His forte, however, was his ability to block shots, where he averaged 6.9 rejections a game. Steenberge notched the first triple double in school history in a win over Glenelg with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots, and accomplished the feat twice more during the season. He scored 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked eight shots in a mid-season dual with Josh Gross, and scored 26 against Eric Toback in a win over Mount Hebron.
The boys teams
Player of the Year: Josh Gross, Long Reach
Coach of the Year: Jeremy Snyder, Glenelg
Name...................... School............Class............... Position
Chris Bowen.........Glenelg........... Senior............. Forward
Josh Gross............Long Reach.... Senior........... Forward
Scott Kincaid.........Centennial....... Senior...........Guard
Eric Toback........... Mount Hebron... Senior......... Forward
Kevin Steenberge.....River Hill..........Junior...........Center
Nick Andrews......... Long Reach......... Senior .........Forward
Datren Awkward.......Hammond.......... Senior ..........Forward
Andre Brooks......... Oakland Mills...... Junior.......... Forward
Jamie Hollander....... Atholton.............. Senior......... Guard
Chris McDonald........ River Hill.............Senior......... Guard
Taj Murphy.................Hammond.......... Junior ............Guard
Brian O'Connor....... Centennial ...........Senior ............Guard