BOYS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In Owens' three years as a starter, the Panthers never lost a game to an Anne Arundel County opponent. With the 6-foot-1 and 190- pound Owens running the show, No. 5 Annapolis (23-2) went 50-0 against county foes in his career and were 72-5 overall.
Also last season's county Player of the Year, Owens is considered to be one of the top three guards to ever play at Annapolis. Owens, who penetrates the lane with exceptional strength, creates and finishes inside and on the perimeter. In addition, Owens is relentless on defense.
Averaging 22.4 points, Owens led the county in scoring. Owens scored 559 points to finish with 1,624 in his career, second highest in school history and fourth on the all-time county list.
In his final game at Friendly in Prince George's County, the Panthers lost a 73-72 decision in overtime in the Class 3A East regional final despite a game-high 28 points by Owens.
"Laronja made all the big plays and did everything he could for us to win, which is something he did for us for all three years, " said Annapolis coach John Brady.
Owens, who never missed a game, averaged 21.1 points over his career to go with career totals of 5.5 assists and four rebounds per game. This season, he led the county in assists with 5.2 a game and contributed four rebounds a game.
Owens also led his team in three-pointers (45). He plans to attend a junior college, likely one in Florida.
BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR
Thomas Johnson of Frederick was a heavy preseason favorite to repeat as Class 4A East region champions, but Rudd's Gophers pulled a 70-69 upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots.
No. 10 Glen Burnie nearly made it to the 4A state final before falling, 67-63, to Montgomery County's Magruder in overtime.
"Nobody expected us to win [at Thomas Johnson], but these kids believed they could after watching the film of T.J's regular-season win over Frederick," said Rudd, whose Gophers knocked off Frederick, 63-60, in the East semifinals. "The Magruder game was there for the taking, but I'm really proud of these 15 special kids."
With just one returning starter in Mitch Guest and knowing that Thomas Johnson had rolled through Anne Arundel County foes in last year's regional, Rudd didn't expect to be on the sideline at the Comcast Center, site of the state final four.
But there he was with seven bus loads of Glen Burnie fans. Rudd, who is 93-75 in seven seasons at his alma mater, led the Gophers to their first state semifinal since 1994, the fourth overall, and came close to playing in the school's first state final since 1961.
Glen Burnie (19-6) had a five-point lead over Magruder with 1:41 left in regulation, but couldn't hold it.
"It was really neat being there, and we would like to do it again," said Rudd, who will return his top two leading scorers next season in Guest (22.2) and Brandon Albert (10.2). "I can't wait to get started next year."
BOYS FIRST TEAM
Archbishop Spalding, senior
Headed to the University of Maryland, the 7-foot Bowers averaged 13.5 points and six rebounds and had 76 blocked shots and 40 assists for the Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference runner-up Cavaliers (26-7). Bowers scored 60 points in three tournament games, including 26 in a 49-48 loss to Mount St. Joseph in the BCL/ MIAA A Conference final. Named to all-tournament teams in the BCL and the Alhambra, Bowers scored 56 points in three games to lead the Cavaliers to a third-place finish in the Alhambra. He finished his career with 1,100 points.
Archbishop Spalding, junior
Gay, a 6-foot-7 high-flying forward with a great touch inside or outside, was a fine addition to the Cavaliers. Transferring from Eastern Tech in Baltimore County, Gay led the Cavaliers in points (13.9), rebounds (7.1) and blocks (85). Named All-Catholic League in the regular season and tournament, Gay became the Cavaliers' go-to guy and is a Division I prospect. Maryland is at the top of his list of prospective schools.
Headed to Division I Coastal Carolina on a scholarship, the 6-foot-6 center was a force inside for the Class 2A South finalist Bulldogs (18-7) and is the first county player to go over the 1,000-mark in career points (1,243) and rebounds (1,036). Gross led the area in rebounds (14.6) and was among the leaders in both points (17.2) and assists (4.3). He also had 91 blocked shots and 56 steals. A three-year varsity starter, Gross also was a first-team selection last season.
Glen Burnie, junior
Guest made four free throws in the final 28 seconds to help the Gophers to a 70-69 upset at Thomas Johnson in the Class 4A East regional final. The Gophers' go-to player can score from anywhere. Guest, a 5-foot-9 guard, had 23 points and five assists in his team's 67-63 overtime loss to Magruder in the 4A state semifinals. A second-team all-county pick last season, Guest, who has 847 career points, averaged 22.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and had 60 steals.
Holland, a 6-foot-1 swingman, led the No. 15 Bulldogs (18-7) in scoring with 20.5 points a game, shooting 51 percent from the field and 83 percent at the line. He contributed in the backcourt and in the paint. Holland is quick with excellent basketball instincts and is a good leaper. Holland, who is headed to Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep, averaged 8.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, had 13 blocks and anchored Southern's press, making 66 steals.
A three-year starter for the county champions and Class 3A East region runners-up, the 6-foot-6 center/ forward averaged 19.9 points, playing in all but one game for the No. 5 Panthers (23-2). Johnson used his strength, long arms and leaping ability to control the boards in nearly every game. Johnson averaged 12.6 rebounds, giving him 824 (11.2 average) for his career to go with 1,188 career points.