Aberdeen won the state Class 2A boys basketball championship five years ago, and the team that coach Richard Hart has this season might give him his best chance at another title.
The Eagles routed North East of Cecil County, 85-42, in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference title game Wednesday at Harford Tech.
They're a group that has played well together throughout the season, winning all 12 UCBAC games before rolling in the championship game.
The Class 2A tournament is up next, and Hart is optimistic. Aberdeen lost in last year's region final.
"I like this group a lot," Hart said. "They've worked hard all year long. They're coachable and they're unselfish. I appreciate that."
Aberdeen (18-4) uses guard Kashif Brown (20 points per game) plus 7-foot center Robbie Jackson (17 ppg, 14 rpg), guard/forward Leandre Richardson (14 ppg) and point guard Marlon Jenifer (5.5 assists per game) to cause teams problems on both the inside and outside.
Brown can drive to the basket or shoot from the outside. He hit some big outside shots against North East. The Indians were so worried about Jackson that they double- and triple-teamed him. The Eagles responded by making 10 three-pointers.
Jackson scored only two points on a third-quarter dunk. He sat out most of the final 12 minutes. Afterward, he smiled when asked about North East's approach to defending him.
"That opened up a lot of plays for us," Jackson said. "If I see a person open, I can get it to them."
All in the families
The fact that Edgewood's Paul Yungandreas (119 pounds) and L.B. Westerman (140) made last weekend's wrestling regionals wasn't surprising. But the fact that their sisters did was.
Yungandreas (27-6, 17 pins) and Westerman (17-5, 14 pins) both had strong seasons. But Alicia Yungandreas (103, 10-18, three pins) and Nicole Westerman (135, 6-9) also qualified for the regionals based on regular-season points.
Alicia Yungandreas had never wrestled before the first month of this season, when the Rams needed some help at 103. She had seen her three older brothers wrestle for years, was competitive from the start and stuck with the team.
She had been serving as a team manager until she decided to try to help in a different role.
"It was all osmosis for her," said her mother, Nicky Yungandreas, with a laugh. "She's been going to matches since she was 4 years old."
Said Alicia's father, Kevin, also an Edgwood assistant coach: "It turned out she got bit by the bug."
Nicole Westerman wrestled on the junior varsity for most of her first three years. She had a strong junior year capped by winning the Harford County JV championship at 130 pounds.
She also took first in a tournament at Chespeake (Anne Arundel) earlier in the season.
The Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference is in its first full year of competition, with its growth continuing.
The conference began play last winter. Baseball and softball were the only sports played under the UCBAC banner last spring, but tennis and track will be there this spring.
Boys and girls lacrosse are in the preliminary budget for next year. Commissioner Bob Slagle said final funding will be determined later in the spring. Cross country is in the preliminary budget for next fall.
There are 14 schools in the UCBAC, nine from Harford County and five from Cecil County. The conference is organized into two divisions (Chesapeake and Susquehanna).
Two ways to win
Harford Tech's Mark Taylor (103) made life easy for himself at the UCBAC wrestling tournament last weekend.
Taylor had to wrestle only 1:11 to get the three pins that earned him a championship, getting victories in 16, 25 and 30 seconds. He entered the regional meet with a 28-10 record.
Alex Wolverton had a tougher time winning his UCBAC title for Aberdeen at 125. He sustained a cut over his right eye in taking an accidental knee from Harford Tech's Mike Long and had to have his head wrapped tightly to finish. Wolverton (30-1) pulled out a 2-1 victory.