Several teams in rebuilding phase, Eagles off to fast start

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006


The county public boys’ high school basketball scene will have a different look than last season as the 2006-07 campaign kicks off next week.

Henry A. Wise High will make its varsity debut in the County 4A League, where Eleanor Roosevelt looks for a return to the state finals. Several schools, including Charles H. Flowers, Laurel and Suitland, are set to challenge the Raiders.

Defending county champ Gwynn Park has a new coach in Mike Glick and a new challenger in the County 3A⁄2A⁄1A League in Largo. The Lions and Frederick Douglass both join the league this winter.

DeMatha is again the class of private schools, both here in the area and nationally. First-year squads at Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills and Jericho Christian in Landover attempt to make inroads.

Here’s a glance at what to expect from some of the squads:

Friendly

After enjoying an era that produced a number of Star⁄Gazette All County first-team players such as University of Pittsburgh star Sam Young and Hillary Haley (East Carolina), the Patriots will embark on a rebuilding phase.

Coach Brian Walker’s objective has been to work on team chemistry while a number of new starters get acclimated to playing with one another.

“We’re still growing as a team and the kids are working hard,“ Walker said. “This is definitely the youngest team we will have at Friendly since I’ve been here. Being that we’re young, we’re definitely going to learn some lessons early. We’re going to spend the season building toward the playoffs. We don’t have a target on our back this year.“

The Patriots have only three returning players from last season. Senior forward Jamiel Cooper, senior guard Maubi Kapombe and junior guard Durrell Tyler will lead the attack this season.

Gwynn Park

A new era dawns in Brandywine as long-time coach Steve Matthews stepped down last spring.

In his place, Gwynn Park in May hired a proven winner in Glick, a former coach at Archbishop Spalding and St. Vincent Pallotti.

Glick will lead a Yellow Jackets’ boys program that has won more state titles (10) and has played in more state finals (16) than any other program in state history.

Glick led Pallotti to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Division II championship in the mid 1990s and led Spalding to several Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles.

Glick brings 13 years of experience and 272 career victories to a program that suffered four losses in the state title game during Matthews’ tenure.

“Our objective is very simple and that is to keep getting better and playing our best basketball,“ Glick said. “I’m a defensive-minded coach and we want to be a very good defensive team.“

Gwynn Park will be undersized, with its tallest player standing 6-foot-4, but the Yellow Jackets seek to keep the tempo up by pushing the ball on offense and using its defense to generate points. Junior guards Sean Thomas and Harold Washington will lead the Yellow Jackets’ attack.

Surrattsville

Once again, the Hornets will be starting anew on the coaching front. Ulysses Lee will take over the reigns this season. Lee works as a trooper in the county sheriff’s office and also served on the Charles H. Flowers High football team’s coaching staff.

Lee brings plenty of energy and enthusiasm to a Hornets’ squad attempting to establish an identity.

“Practice has been going great,“ Lee said. “We’ve won all of our scrimmages so far. I think the biggest asset to this group is their quickness and that they’re not afraid of anything. We should be able to get up and down the floor and press well.“

Although lacking in height, the Hornets will have a wealth of experience as the team returns four players from last year’s team.

Forward Dominic Carter and guard Paul Morrison will provide senior leadership while junior guard Jamal Brown and junior swingman Darious Clark will add varsity floor experience. Senior point guard Jarrett Dillard also figures to be a factor.

Grace Brethren

The Eagles enjoyed last season’s run en route to the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference title.

This season could end with the same result. The Eagles improved to 3-0 this past weekend after winning the Arlington Baptist Tournament. Coach Dennis Loufik sees the season shaping up well.

“We’re pretty experienced and trying to repeat as PVAC champions this year,“ Loufik said. “We really have a good inside-outside game and we’re offensively balanced. We’ve got a lot of experience in some areas. We just want to work on our chemistry and take one game at a time and not look too far down the road.“

The Eagles return senior guard Devin Paige, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier this week. Star forward Giovanni Flowers also returns along with junior post-player Brad Harris. Senior point guard Trey Clark will seek to guide the Eagles’ offensive and defensive attack.

The Eagles’ toughest opponent this season will probably be St. Anselm’s, which the Eagles will face for the first time Jan. 9.

E-mail Terron Hampton at thampton@gazette.net.