The Marriotts Ridge boys basketball team endured the growing pains of its second year of existence with last season's four-win campaign but now is experiencing a growth spurt of victories.
With nearly every player back this season, the program's first with a senior class, the Mustangs have found that sticking together is working out fine.
The team takes a 7-2 record into today's game against River Hill, relying on consistent offense from 6-foot senior guard Kevin Seker (25 ppg), strong team defense and each player understanding his role.
"Having everybody back but one player has been a huge help, and we've been playing together for three years," Seker said. "Teams look at us and can say we're not the biggest team or the quickest, but we find ways to win games. We really have grown together like a family, and you may have heard that before, but we really feel that way."
Coach Marcus Lewis said it is a rarity to have nearly an entire team return, and the Mustangs have made the most of it. Kyle Williams (eight ppg) and Derek Coleman (six points, four assists) have provided key support for Seker on offense, while Danny Incontrera has added a defensive spark coming off the bench.
"It's their turn now, and with each win, you can see them get more and more confident," Lewis said.
After averaging 17 points per game last season, mostly relying on good aim from the perimeter, Seker has found offense in different ways to keep opposing teams off balance.
"He's a good outside shooter, but he's really worked hard on getting to the basket and getting to the foul line," Lewis said.
Long Reach boys basketball -- Two years ago, Long Reach got on a roll that didn't stop until it captured the program's first state championship.
The Lightning, which takes a 9-0 mark into today's game against Hammond, appears primed for another strong run.
While much of the attention is focused on standout forward Obi Ukwuoma, who averages 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, the Lightning also is getting key contributions from some new players. Senior point guard Dean Queen, a transfer from Chesapeake High in Anne Arundel, is averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, and 6-4 junior Julius Fambro has been good for 10 points and eight rebounds per game.
Coach Al Moraz Jr. has been pleased with the team's unselfish play, a key to its state championship run during the 2005-06 season.
"The kids have really taken to the team concept," he said. "Everybody knows Obi is our go-to guy, but they are all taking pride in sharing the ball."
Mariotts Ridge wrestling -- Marriotts Ridge captured the Loch Raven Dual Tournament title Saturday, going 7-0 with victories over Friends, Pikesville, Meade, North Point, Loch Raven, Perry Hall and Dulaney. Evan Peck (103 pounds), Stephen Oltjen (119), Chris Trainer (130) and Jae Kim (215) all went 7-0 to take first place for the Mustangs, who also received the team sportsmanship award.