Senior leadership, balanced scoring, talent off the bench and sound team defense -- the Annapolis Area Christian girls basketball team has had it all covered this season.
With two games left in the regular season -- including today's contest against visiting Mount Zion -- the Eagles (12-2) have all but locked up the top seed in their chase for the Maryland Christian Athletic League crown.
The Eagles have gone 6-0 in league play, taking a two-game lead over second-place Greater Grace with a 53-38 win on Tuesday.
For the first time in his seven years, coach Bob Topp has three players averaging in double figures. Senior point guard Paige Cheeks averages 14.1 points per game; senior forward Kristin Benner -- coming off a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday's win -- has been good for 11.2 points with junior center Monica Bunts at 10.3 points.
As for the work from the bench, freshman Shannon Whitcher is the team's first substitute and fourth-leading scorer at just under six points.
"The team balance is superior in that I have five people on the floor that can score points and get the job done on defense. And then when I go to the bench, there's no drop-off," Topp said.
The program's best season came in 2000-01 when the Eagles were 17-6 and winners of the now-defunct Chesapeake Women's Athletic Conference.
The Eagles, who can lock up the top seed with one win in their final two regular-season games, will open their MCAL Tournament run on Feb. 20, with the finals set for Feb. 22 at Loyola College.
Falcons coach honored
Severna Park girls soccer coach Gary Lam was recently named Girls Coach of the Year by the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer (MACS) at its annual All-State banquet.
Lam, who was also chosen as The Sun's Anne Arundel Coach of the Year, led the No. 3 Falcons to a 17-1-2 mark and the Class 3A state title last fall.
"There's a tremendous amount of pride that comes with receiving this award, but also guilt because everything we did this year was so team-oriented. I was only one ingredient," said Lam.
Mulry still undefeated
With the regular season in its final week, only one county wrestler -- South River's Andrew Mulry -- is unbeaten.
The 112-pound sophomore is 23-0 with 16 pins and two technical falls. His toughest test came Tuesday when he won a 8-5 decision over Severna Park's Mike Smythe.
After going 21-9 in his freshman season, Mulry -- fourth in The Sun's individual rankings for the weight class -- has come a long way in a short time.
"His style hasn't necessarily changed much; he's just a lot stronger and more physical this year," said South River coach John Klessinger. "He's a textbook wrestler -- nothing fancy -- he just goes after you."
Two wrestling powers
What better way to end the regular season than the county's top two teams going at it?
That's the case in wrestling tonight with No. 7 Chesapeake traveling to No. 9 Old Mill in a tri-match also involving Meade.
The Cougars (8-5) go to Millersville with an 8-0 county mark, while the host Patriots (10-0-1) are 7-0-1 in the county.
In girls basketball, the rematch between No. 6 Arundel and No. 10 Severna Park -- both 14-3 and 10-1 in the county -- will take place Tuesday.
But first things first and for the Falcons, that's a visit from No. 18 Annapolis today.