Hit hard by graduation losses from last year's Class 3A state title team, the Long Reach boys basketball team suffered another setback when senior forward Michael Bowden went down with a knee injury in the team's season opener on Dec. 5
It did not keep the Lightning from making an impressive statement last week in county play.
With home wins over Atholton, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake, the Lightning (4-1 going into this week) started off the county schedule as it ended last season - this time relying on a new cast of players and different measures.
Senior Keith Richardson, the lone returning starter, has averaged 15 points and three assists, while junior forward Obi Ukwuoma (12.5 points, 10 rebounds) has picked up the slack inside left by the 6-foot-5 Bowden, who had reconstructive knee surgery on Dec. 8 and is likely to miss the rest of the season.
"I think we have rallied behind him, and we have dedicated the season to Mike," said Lightning coach Al Moraz Jr. "He is a good kid who has worked hard in the program, and we really miss his size."
Without the same depth as last season's team, the Lightning is not relying on the press or man-to-man defense as much. Moraz said he has also received quality play from Kyle Cohen, who is averaging 9.5 points and 2.5 assists. Long Reach hosts Centennial at 5:30 tonight.
Petrlik steps down
Looking to spend more time with her family, Hammond field hockey coach Gay Petrlik has stepped down after 19 seasons.
Petrlik, who will turn 60 in March, has three grown children and three grandchildren. She will continue to teach and be an assistant girls lacrosse coach.
"The last couple years, my family has been urging me to ease up a bit - spend some more time with family - and I have been waiting for someone to possibly step in," said Petrlik, who led the Bears to an 11-5 mark this fall.
She said a candidate with college playing experience who teaches at Hammond has interviewed for the job.
"It has been so much fun. The kids have been wonderful, the parents have been wonderful and the community has supported us well. We had a great season," she said.