There is an alternate reality where Amourie Porter didn’t attend Glen Burnie and chose instead to play basketball for a private school. She surely had that option.
When Porter’s nomadic childhood brought her to Maryland midway through seventh grade, her distinguished AAU background triggered an outpouring of local private school offers. Her dad, Sam, and mom, Shonda, sat down with their daughter and asked her what she wanted to do.
“I already had in my mind,” Sam Porter said, “‘you’re coming to GB.’ But we said, ‘Amourie, what do you want?’”
Middle school-aged Amourie’s answer was quite simple.
“She wanted to put Glen Burnie on the map,” Sam said.
Had Amourie Porter not committed to her conviction, Glen Burnie girls basketball may have never reached the heights of near-perfection that it did this winter. The junior guard led her Gophers to historic moment after historic moment — first undefeated regular season, first county championship selection, first win in a county championship, first state semifinal in nearly 40 years.
For that, Amourie Porter is the 2022 Capital Gazette Girls Basketball Player of the Year. As unlikely as it was that she’d arrive on Glen Burnie’s doorstep, she embodies a prediction then-coach Dan Mangum made in 2002, when he spoke of the Gophers’ golden child at the time, Essence Greer.
Mangum said at the time, 20 years ago: “Maybe once in 20 years, you see a player like her.”
But why did Amourie Porter do it at Glen Burnie? Born in North Carolina before following her mother’s military career to Alabama, Georgia and Alaska before Maryland, Amourie had no native urge to raise her hometown up. She could see recent local examples like Angel Reese, Eniya Russell and Mir McLean advance to top-tier programs out of private schools. There has never been any such product out of Glen Burnie High School.
Porter didn’t care. She had no doubt she could make a change.
“I wanted to show other kids around here you don’t have to go to private schools to get that attention,” she said. “As long as you make a difference, you can go to any school you want.”
That, Porter did. She led her team in every category — points per game (19.2), field goal percentage (60), rebounds per game (10.2), steals per game (4.4), as well as total points (432), rebounds (230), steals (102) and blocks (21). She shot 80% from the foul line and tied Cincear Parker in assists per game (4.4). She scored 34 in a December game against Meade, and in a game of dire importance, 30 in the state quarterfinal. When her team needed a leader against Old Mill in the regional final, she unfurled 20 second-half points to rally the Gophers.
All of this only just hit Sam as a father. Before, he’d registered his daughter’s accomplishments as the head coach, continuing to march forward with his entire team in mind.
But as the weeks have passed, Sam Porter, this year’s Capital Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, looks upon his daughter with fatherly pride: once a 3-year-old dribbling the ball around the court in Alabama, now fielding Division I offers.
“It was a good moment,” he said. “I look forward to what happens next.”
During her freshman year, Amourie felt slowly validated by her choice as respect for the team gradually trickled in. Under coach Jonathan Mason, the Gophers started winning, going 12-9. Porter made the All-County first team with 369 points.
After leaving to coach the new Crofton program, Mason met Porter coach-to-player again in the Cardinals’ duel with the Gophers on Jan. 8 (a 63-24 rout). She had blossomed into exactly what he’d hoped – always a good ballplayer, but wiser now.
“You could see the level of growth on the floor, dealing with adversity,” Mason said. “I know they didn’t face too much this year, but enough to tell the difference Amourie has made growing as a person and player. She’s only going to get better.”
Despite her whopping scoring caches, Amourie has never been selfish, always operated as a pass-first guard. As she began to understand this year’s teammates, she began to understand her true purpose more. On the eve of the first Old Mill game in mid-February, Porter listened to senior Malorie Eslick as she regaled how they’d never beaten Old Mill, how it didn’t matter if they lost every game this season so long as they beat Old Mill.
Amourie said she doesn’t normally celebrate individual wins; you can always beat any team, she said. But seeing the smile on Eslick’s face sparked joy within Porter.
“She kept balling, but it was different,” Sam said. “As the season continued to go on, she was still balling, but the purpose behind it was ‘I got to do this for them. If I don’t get this steal, if I don’t get this rebound, if I don’t score this basket, I’m letting my teammates down.’”
Nothing epitomized that epiphany more than the region final.
Down at halftime, Amourie Porter’s teammates surrounded her and reminded her that she was good enough to one-woman-army her way through their rivals.
“She took her game to another level,” Sam Porter said. “… It was her mentality: I’m the best. I’m not going to wait, I’m going to establish dominance because I’m the best player.”
Glen Burnie doesn’t need to worry they’ll lose their dynamic player before her senior year, as the Porters’ military life days are done. But what of Amourie Porter’s ultimate goal, to change how people thought of Glen Burnie girls basketball? Her father spoke of it all season: raising the bar, bringing Glen Burnie natives home.
Sam Porter’s call log is full of calls from neighborhood kids leaving their private schools behind to come home.
But Amourie feels it, too, that feeling that’d never lingered for long as she moved from state to state. When she put up game day posts to social media and people repost it. When she looked upon packed stands chanting “MVP” for her on numerous occasions.
“The people here, the support I [and the team] get, it’s like a home,” she said.
Coach of the Year: Sam Porter, Glen Burnie
Ask Sam Porter at any point in the season what his goals are for Glen Burnie and he’ll tell you: “Raise the bar” and “bring kids home.”
In his second season and first actually playing, Porter guided the Gophers to heights never before achieved by this Glen Burnie program. The Gophers secured a 22-1 overall record, 16-0 in the county and unbeaten in the regular season. After journeying to its first-ever county championship game, Glen Burnie defeated six-time defending champion Old Mill for the third of four times, becoming the first Gophers girls basketball team to raise that trophy and the first Gophers program to do it since 2003.
The Gophers then defeated the Patriots again to secure a region title and traveled to the state semifinals, the program’s first since 1983.
Heather Middleton, Arundel senior forward: Middleton totaled 450 points, 83 steals and 195 rebounds, good for per-game averages of 20.5, 3.8 steals and 8.9 rebounds.
Cora Shafer, Crofton junior forward: Shafer averaged 16 points per game, 12 rebounds per game and 4 blocks per game
Amani Watts, Old Mill junior center/forward: Watts totaled 288 points and 176 rebounds, averages of 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Cincear Parker, Glen Burnie sophomore point guard: Parker averaged 11 points per game, tied the team-high with 4.5 assists per game, 4.2 steals a game and 3.6 rebounds per game. She shot 46% from the field and 77% from the free throw line.
Ayanni Brown, Meade senior point guard: Brown averaged 16.3 points, 3.1 assists , 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game.
Kamari Sims, Spalding junior forward: Sims averaged 28 points and 16 rebounds per game, shooting 66.7% from 3-point range and 80% from the free throw line.
Baily Walden, St. Mary’s sophomore guard: Walden averaged 16.4 points and 1.5 assists per game.
Toronto Williams, St. Mary’s senior guard/forward: Williams averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Ava Wooster, Southern; Naveah Brown, Old Mill; Ryleigh Adams, South River; Lilley Kelly, Broadneck; Na’Vaye Willis, North County; Clarissa Hill, Meade; Mariah Sanabia, Spalding; Haley Selmer, Indian Creek.