BOYS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Barksdale embodies the grit and toughness that has symbolized the East Baltimore school the past several seasons. The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 20.6 points, 7.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds, and was the stabilizing force for the top-ranked Poets (25-2).
Against defending city and Class 3A state champion Douglass, Barksdale had a season-high 29 points in a 70-57 win at Morgan State. The victory ended Douglass' 46-game winning streak, third longest in area history behind Dunbar's stretches of 59 and 52.
Barksdale had 24 points in a 77-64 win over No. 2 Randallstown at the Basketball Academy at Coppin State, handing the eventual Baltimore County and 3A state semifinalist its lone setback of the regular season. In the 1A state final against Pocomoke last weekend, Barksdale had 23 points in a 72-55 victory, avenging last year's title-game loss to the Eastern Shore school and ending its 38-game winning streak. Barksdale tallied 36 points, seven assists and four steals in two games at the state final four. The Player of the Year in the city league, Barksdale, who has a 3.0 grade point average and 900 SAT score, is being recruited by Baylor, Canisius, Central Connecticut State, Drake, Northern Arizona and Youngstown State.
BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR
Mount St. Joseph
The tears in Clatchey's eyes after the No. 3 Gaels claimed the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship at Goucher College were of joy and relief. Clatchey, in his 11th season, has one of the area's most successful tenures, but some wondered whether Mount St. Joseph would ever win the Catholic League title.
Clatchey and the Gaels finally captured the elusive crown, winning the regular-season and tournament championship for the first time in 32 years, and also finished first in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
Mount St. Joseph (29-5) rolled off 17 consecutive wins, including a 63-57 decision at Archbishop Spalding to clinch the Catholic League and MIAA A Conference regular-season title. The streak was ended in the regular-season finale at St. Frances (54-52), but the Gaels knocked off the Panthers in the tournament semifinals at Goucher College, setting up a third matchup with defending tournament champion Spalding.
In its fifth appearance in the final, Mount St. Joseph withstood five shots under the basket by the Cavaliers at the end of the game to emerge with a 49-48 victory.
BOYS FIRST TEAM
Bolden, 5 feet 7, had a huge impact this winter for the city finalists. A transfer from defunct Northern High, he averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds for the Ducks, who were Class 3A North region finalists. Bolden, who had 18 points in the city title game, opened with a season-high 37 in the Ducks' come-from-behind victory over then-defending Washington champion Spingarn at the Baltimore/D.C. challenge.
While teammate Levi Stukes received most of the attention, Breaux etched his mark as an inside force for the three-time Baltimore County champions. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 11.8 points and 9.6 rebounds for the Rams, who lost in overtime to Chopticon of St. Mary's County in the Class 3A state semifinals on Thursday. Breaux had 17 points and nine rebounds against Chopticon. An All-Baltimore County first-team pick, Breaux, along with brother Tommy, will play football next season for the University of Buffalo.
Lake Clifton, junior
Carter was the offensive catalyst for the city champions. The 6-foot-4 swing player averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 8.8 rebounds for the No. 4 Lakers, who dethroned Douglass for the city title before their season ended in the Class 4A state semifinals against Prince George's County power Oxon Hill. His game-winning half-court shot at the buzzer in overtime stunned Mervo in the 4A North regional title game. He had a game-high 20 points in the Lakers' 50-49 triumph in the city title.
After a slow start, Frazier was again one of the best performers in the area. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the No. 8 Mustangs. A repeat All-City/County first-team selection, Frazier will play in the City/Suburban All-Star contest preceding the Charm City Challenge next month at Towson University.
Lake Clifton, senior
A 6-foot-6 forward, Nelson did all the dirty work this winter for the city champions. He averaged 11.9 points and 12.1 rebounds for Lake Clifton, which claimed its first city championship since the 1994-95 season, scoring the final basket in a 50-49 come-from-behind victory over Douglass. Despite a 71-58 loss to eventual Class 4A state champion Oxon Hill in the state semifinals on Thursday, Nelson, a second-team All-City/County pick last winter, had a game-high 15 rebounds.
Mount St. Joseph, senior
O'Connor's steady play was a big factor in Mount St. Joseph's run to its first Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship. The 6-foot guard averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Gaels, who also captured the MIAA A Conference regular-season title. His outside shooting complemented Mount St. Joseph's strong inside game. O'Connor was an All-MIAA A Conference and Catholic League pick.
Popoko, a 6-foot-4 forward, was one of the area's toughest post performers this season. He averaged 15.5 and 11.5 rebounds for the Eagles, who battled Mount St. Joseph and Spalding for supremacy in the MIAA A Conference. A two-year starter, Popoko was an All-MIAA A Conference first-team selection and was all-tournament at the Catholic League/MIAA A Conference tournament. He will play for Stony Brook University next season.
Stukes was again the dominant player in Baltimore County, claiming Player of the Year honors by league coaches for the second straight year. A two-time All-City/County first-team pick, Stukes averaged 24.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists for Randallstown. He had 33 points in last week's state semifinal loss to Chopticon, after his 26 points helped Randallstown past Douglass in the 3A North regional final. Stukes will play for the Baltimore All-Star squad at next month's Charm City Challenge.
Mount St. Joseph, junior
In a historic season for Mount St. Joseph, Thomas found himself among some impressive company. The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward became the first Gael to be named Catholic League Player of the Year, leading the Irvington school to its first regular-season and tournament title. The Most Valuable Player of the Catholic League tournament, Thomas averaged 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. He's the first underclassman to be named Catholic League Player of the Year since St. Frances' Mark Karcher in 1996, and has already garnered a scholarship offer from Xavier.