Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008 All-County Boys Basketball Team

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Brenda Ahearn⁄The Gazette
The Gazette-Star All-County Boys’ Basketball Team includes: (front row, from left) Jamahl Brown, Klevin Pollard, Sean Thomas; (middle row, from left) Will Alston, Naji Hibbert, Coach of the Year Lewis Howard, Maurice Sutton, Talib Zanna; (back row, from left) Khaalis Coppock-Bey, Terrance Burke, Harold Washington. Not pictured: Thomas Robinson.
Player of the Year
Maurice Sutton, Largo, Sr.
The senior doesn’t have much bulk on his lanky 6-foot-11 frame. But once opponents saw him play a few possessions on defense, it was clear he was a force to be reckoned with. With Sutton controlling the paint, the Lions captured the state Class 3A championship — Largo’s first in 15 years. Sutton created problems for the opposition at both ends of the floor, averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and a whopping nine blocks per contest. Sutton, who has drawn serious interest from the University of Kentucky and Seton Hall, is expected to make a college choice in the coming weeks.

Coach of the Year
Lewis Howard, Largo
Howard has had his share of bumps during his time at Largo. In 2004, the Lions lost in the state Class 4A semifinals in Howard’s first trip to the state Final Four. Last season, the Lions fell short of perfection, suffering their only loss of the season in the Class 3A semifinals. But with the nucleus of that team still intact this season Howard and the Lions won games of all types — close battles and blowouts. Largo won its last two 3A South Region playoff games on the road, including a 49-48 victory at Lackey in the region title game. The Lions then avenged last year’s state semifinal loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase, beating the Barons in this year’s semifinals before easily dispatching Long Reach in the title game.

First Team
Will Alston, Laurel, Sr.
The Spartans could have had a dropoff this year after graduating their two best players from last season, but Alston helped them to the Class 4A semifinals for the first time since 1980. A transfer from Archbishop Spalding, the senior averaged 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, helping Laurel to a 22-3 record and the county championship.

Naji Hibbert, DeMatha, Fr.
On one of the youngest DeMatha squads in years, Hibbert helped the three-time Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions reach the tournament semifinals. He transferred from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore to a team that was missing five starters to begin the season and averaged 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals and is being recruited by Miami (Fla.) and Syracuse, among others.

Harold Washington, Gwynn Park, Sr., G
The Yellow Jackets went from a middle-of-the-pack squad to one of the best in the state as Washington took off for nearly 19 points and two steals per game. He could drive inside or hit from the outside, as he led the team with 31 3-pointers, and helped Gwynn Park into the Class 2A state tournament for the first time in four years.

Sean Thomas, Gwynn Park, Sr., G
The other half of the Yellow Jackets’ success this year, Thomas put up numbers nearly identical to his teammate in the backcourt. He averaged 18.9 points and had his best game of the year — 30 points on 12 for 13 shooting — in a win against defending County 3A⁄2A⁄1A League champion Largo on Jan. 19, which was key in helping Gwynn Park win 22 straight regular season games.

Thomas Robinson, Riverdale Baptist, Jr.
A major contributor to the 31-6 Crusaders, Robinson averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals per game. The junior recorded 23 double-doubles during the season. He was named to the all-tournament team and most outstanding defensive player at the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament and also was selected to the all-tournament team at the Lone Star Invitational.

Klevin Pollard, Largo, Sr.
Pollard quietly got better as he progressed in his career with the Lions. Last season, he was overshadowed by former Lions Kwame Morgan and Maurice Colter. But the senior’s time came this year as he averaged 21 points, five assists and four rebounds per contest for the state Class 3A champion Lions.

Talib Zanna, Bishop McNamara, Jr., F
The junior came off a serious injury to have a breakout season. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks during a season removed from a broken ankle. With one more year of high school left, Zanna has drawn interest from schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and Atlantic 10.

Terrance Burke, Northwestern, Sr.
Despite the Wildcats’ struggles as a team, the senior quietly established himself as one of the best players in the county over the past two years. Burke carried the Wildcats on his back for stretches as he averaged 24.8 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Burke has drawn interest from a number of Division I schools and has a scholarship offer from Farleigh-Dickinson University.

Jamahl Brown, Surrattsville, Sr.
The premier scorer in the county, Brown was virtually unstoppable when he decided to shoot the ball from close or long range. The senior averaged 27 points, eight rebounds and five steals per game. Brown averaged 38 points per game in the postseason as he helped lead Surrattsville to the Class 1A state title game. Brown is still evaluating his college options.

Khaalis Coppock-Bey, Fairmont Heights, Jr.
The only returning starter from last season’s state Class 2A runner-up, Coppock-Bey was the heart of the Hornets’ attack this season. The junior averaged 22.3 points, five rebounds and two assists per game this season. Coppock-Bey scored a season-high 34 points against Frederick Douglass and helped the Hornets make the Class 2A South Region semifinals.

Second Team
Marquise Simmons, Central
Israel Alao, Bladensburg
Jason Burns, Frederick Douglass
Chaune Duffy, Fairmont Heights
Justin Bess, DuVal
Dewayne Jackson, Bowie
Deonte Edmunds and Sedric Baker, Oxon Hill
Rashad Whack, Bishop McNamara
Reggie Young, Laurel
Lasan Kromah and Brenden Straughn, Eleanor Roosevelt
Kenny Tate, DeMatha
Eric Washington, St. Vincent Pallotti
Delonta Boyd, Henry A. Wise
Chandler Davenport, Queen Anne
A.J. Thomas, Friendly All-county teams are selected by the Gazette-Star sports staff based on our observations, athletes’ performances, statistics and nominations from coaches. Staff writers Terron Hampton, Ted Black and Kevin Hilgers compiled the writeups on these pages.