Douglass and Patterson have folded their girls basketball teams for the rest of this season, because their roster numbers have fallen below the minimum of eight players.
At both schools, several injuries contributed to the dwindling numbers as well as growing lack of interest after some particularly lopsided losses. In the first weeks of the season, No. 19 Western beat Patterson, 69-4, and Douglass, 58-6.
"We were a senior-laden team the year before, so I think the kids coming out knew we weren't going to be that competitive," said Roger Wrenn, Patterson's athletic director. "We played our usual tough nonleague games, and we got beaten by some embarrassingly bad scores. The girls that were playing got discouraged. Then we dropped our JV, and it just snowballed. I hope it's never going to happen again."
Like Wrenn, Douglass athletic director Mary F. Hughee vowed to resurrect her program next season.
"This will not happen again," said Hughee, whose Ducks boys team is ranked No. 1 by The Sun. "Sometimes you have to tear things down to start all over again. We're going to start rebuilding at the foundation."
Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rules specify that basketball teams must begin the season with 12 players, but they can continue to compete as long as they retain eight.
Patterson fell below the minimum and dropped its program on Jan. 21. The Ducks ended their season Jan. 28.
Numbers problems were evident at both schools much earlier. While the Clippers did manage to play part of their JV season, Douglass never had enough girls to field a JV team.
"We were all just kind of throwing up our hands," Wrenn said. "When I wrote the letter [to Bob Wade, athletic director for the Baltimore City Public Schools], I said, 'I regret to inform you that in a school with 1,800 students, we can't seem to find eight who want to play basketball.' I hope that's not a harbinger of things to come."
However, Wrenn said, he doubts the problem will last, because the Clippers fielded their largest girls soccer team ever in the fall. This is the only time the Clippers have had to fold their varsity or JV girls basketball teams.
"We've always been proud that we've been successful in all sports and we've offered some nontraditional city sports like girls lacrosse, soccer and swimming that have been well-received," Wrenn said.
Wade said he does not see the numbers troubles at Patterson and Douglass spreading around the city. All other city high schools continue to field girls basketball teams.
"It's just something that happened at these two schools," Wade said. "Basketball is a very popular sport in the city."
Teams still scheduled to play Patterson and Douglass will pick up forfeit wins in the Baltimore City league.