Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

With a little help from little sis


Greater Grace senior point guard Jenny Bekier leads the metro area in assists with 7.7 a game, thanks in large part to her sister Julie Bekier.

Julie, a sophomore center, finishes most of her sister's passes, averaging 12.5 points as the Eagles stand in first place in the Maryland Christian Athletic League at 13-2.

"They read each other's minds," said Eagles coach Jen Lynch. "That's why Jenny has so many assists. Julie knows where to go and Jenny knows where she's going before she goes and then Jenny hits her with a perfect pass. I love seeing their passing game together."

Jenny may be the big sister, but at 4 feet 10, she is almost a foot shorter than Julie, who at 5-8 is one of the area's leading rebounders with 11.7 per game.

The differences complement each other perfectly and have the defending champion Eagles heading into next week's MCAL tournament as the top seed.

"We work together really well. We have this chemistry, because we've been playing together for a while," said Jenny, who is of Chinese descent and was adopted when she was six months old.

The two played youth basketball together and have been Greater Grace teammates for three years, because Julie played on varsity as an eighth grader.

"They're very different, but they're very close," Lynch said. "I've never seen them get mad at each other. I asked them one day, 'Do you ever fight?' They said, 'No, not really.' "

The sisters have a close relationship, sharing mutual interests such as sports, church and music. Jenny plays bass clarinet in the school band and Julie plays the flute.

Both are excellent students. Jenny carries a 3.96 grade point average and is a Maryland Distinguished Scholar. Julie is a straight-A student.

Quiet efficiency

Assistant coach Kelly Ward said he calls Mount St. Joseph senior Jon Kohler "The Mannequin" for good reason.

"The kid doesn't talk. It's always been that way, and I've coached him since fourth grade," said Ward, who assists Kirk Salvo. "You look at him; he looks at you. You give him instruction; he does what you ask him to do. But there isn't much back and forth conversation. He's got a poker face, never showing his hand."

Kohler just as quietly has established himself as one of Maryland's premier wrestlers. He has won three consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association crowns and is 35-7 this season and 112-31 for his career.

Kohler's gifted, if not as a speaker. A senior, Kohler carries a 4.0 grade point average, has designs on a major in biology, genetics or predental at perhaps Harvard or the Naval Academy, and ranks 55th in his class of 338. He hunts deer with a shotgun and bow and is an Eagle Scout.

Kohler rates as The Sun's top 135-pounder, having earlier this year defeated Ohio State champ Shawn Harris. This weekend, Kohler looks to earn his third consecutive Maryland independent schools state title.

This from a wrestler who was not highly touted coming out of the Navy Juniors program in Annapolis. He had won only an Anne Arundel County title, while many Mount St. Joseph recruits had at least a junior league state crown.

"When I was deciding on high schools in eighth grade, I knew that I would probably be wrestling in someone's shadow coming to MSJ," said Kohler, whose older brothers, Andrew and Michael, attended St. Mary's High in Annapolis. "But I also knew that St. Joe was a place where I could become a better wrestler. It has both helped and motivated me."

Kohler has spent the past three years in the shadows of National Preps champion Mack Lewnes (160), a four-time MIAA titlist and a three-time independent schools champion who is rated No. 1 nationally in his weight class.

"Being in Mack's shadow has never really been a problem for me. I was not a stellar junior leaguer, so I never developed a superstar mentality," said Kohler, who was third at last year's National Preps tournament. "Having kids like Mack, and [MIAA champs] Alex Ward and Danny Whitenak have given me something to work for."

Mervo seeks berth

While last Thursday's 55-46 Baltimore City League victory over City won't put Mervo's boys basketball team in the conference title game, it may have secured one of the top three seeds for the Class 3A North regional playoffs scheduled to begin next weekend.

Antoine Wallace had a game-high 18 points, followed by 13 points each from Walter Saunders and Lonnie Smith and 11 from John Williams, as the Mustangs won for the fifth straight time to improve to 16-3.

Along with last night's game at Dunbar, Mervo has games against Eastern Tech and Forest Park.

Walbrook and City entered this week with four and five losses, respectively, and will play each other. Also a factor is Catonsville, which was 12-5.

"I think City was a big game in terms of sealing at least one of the top seeds," said Mervo coach Daryl Wade, adding that the team with the fewest losses will be the likely No. 1 seed.

Shea leads Gaels

Ryan Shea of Mount St. Joseph won the 100 and 200 freestyle events in Saturday's MIAA swimming championships at Loyola, finishing the season undefeated in those two events. He swam the 200 in an All-American qualifying time of 1 minute, 43.17 seconds. Shea also anchored the third-place 400 freestyle relay, which broke the school record.



Varsity online

ANNE ARUNDEL -- Despite graduating four starters from last year's team, Arundel is still the class of the county in girls basketball.

BALTIMORE CITY -- Ever since Zhondria Benn's father helped her dunk when she was 5, basketball has been an important part of the Western senior's life.

CARROLL -- Motivated by his family's support, Brandon Gervie of Liberty is a dominant wrestler at 189 pounds.

HARFORD -- Good things usually happen for the Joppatowne basketball team when the ball is in the hands of guard Jeff Pettiway.

HOWARD -- Dedicated to wrestling since fourth grade, Glenelg sophomore Chris Stinnett wants to win three state titles before he's through.

Articles may be found at baltimoresun.com/varsity

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad