Spingarn High's Sherman Douglas scored 48 points last week in a basketball game at DuVal High, which was seven points more than Spingarn's winless football team scored in 10 games. The student body at the Northeast school finally has something to cheer about.
"The atmosphere at the school was dull during the football season," the basketball coach, John Wood said. "But now that the basketball season has started, everyone is excited and pepped up."
Spingarn was ranked second in The Post's preseason poll and now, at 2-0, is clearly the team to beat in the Interhigh, perhaps the toughest league in the metropolitan area.
"We didn't finish first in the league last season," Wood said, "but it's a pleasure to be ranked second by The Post. There are so many talented players in this league and, on any given day, any team can beat you. But we accept the challenge."
Spingarn, third in the conference last season with a 16-4 record and 22-6 overall, returns a starting lineup that features probably the best guard in the area, in all-Met Douglas.
The 6-foot-1, 160 pounder was the league's second leading scorer with a 20.7 average last winter. Already, he has shown glimpses of last season's play. After his career-high 48 points against DuVal, he scored 36 in an 95-54 victory at Oxon Hill.
"There aren't too many bad things you can say about Douglas," Wood said. "But he's just one player and it takes five, plus a bench, to win."
Complementing Douglas in the back court, where the Green Wave is strongest, are two more senior standouts, point guard Melvin Middleton (seven assists per game) and Robert Smith, the team's second leading scorer at 15.4. Those three give Spingarn the quickest, if not the best, back court in the league.
Up front, forwards Anthony Duckett (6-5 1/2, 183) and Manuel Jones (6-5 1/2, 200) are small but strong, physical and aggressive.
"We didn't grow during the offseason and I would say that rebounding is probably our biggest weakness," Wood said. "We don't have a horse in the middle, but we make up for it with our speed, quickness and aggressive style of play."
Spingarn will rely on its press when it plays top contenders Dunbar, Wilson, Coolidge and H.D. Woodson.
Dunbar, two-time defending Interhigh champion, was ranked third in the preseason poll. The team finished 19-1 in the Interhigh last season and 23-3 overall. But it lost to Wilson in the Interhigh semifinals, and to DeMatha in the City Championship game.
Again the center of attention at Dunbar and in the league will be first-team all-Met forward Darryl Prue. Last season he was the league's third-leading scorer with a 19-plus average, and averaged 12 rebounds. He recently signed to play with Georgetown University next winter.
Prue, who is listed at 6 feet 7 and 218 pounds, may be the best post player in the area. He has an excellent turn-around jump shot inside the key and is accurate from 20 feet. His herky-jerky movements usually free him for his favorite shot, the 15-footer from the top of the key, and his leaping abilities, his size and his strength help him get inside where he is most effective for his crowd pleasing slam-dunk.
"He is the best player in the league," said Dunbar's second-year Coach Roy Westmore. "He's going to draw a lot of double-team coverage but he'll have a lot of help."
Joining Prue in the front court will be first-year starters Bonzie Colson and Harold Hunter. Colson's size and weight (6-8, 220 pounds) should enable him to control the backboards and Hunter (6-6, 180) adds more beef.
To keep defenses honest, Westmore will again depend on all-Met Darryl McClain's outside shooting. The 5-11 guard provides fine floor leadership, excellent ball handling and a 12.1 average. His accurate shooting from long range enables Prue to operate one-on-one.
Not many teams in the league can match Dunbar up front, but Coolidge (16-4 and 22-6 overall) comes close.
The Colts finished second last season and, like Dunbar, graduated three starters. Gone is all-Met guard Wally Lancaster and his 17.3 average, but other returnees mitigate that loss.
Returning junior center David Butler (6-8, 185) displayed impeccable talents during summer league play, averaging 13 rebounds. Moreover, he was intimidating in the middle, blocking an average of two shots. Senior forward Tim Anderson (6-5, 185) returns to beef up the middle and add scoring, and Darrin Logan (6-6) will provide strength. Guard David Greene will supply leadership. Head Coach Frank Williams' 12 years of experience will prove to be the difference.
Defending Interhigh tournament champion Wilson (12-8 and 18-11) is ready to prove that last season's success was no fluke. The Tigers finished a surprising fourth in the league after a 5-15 record the year before. It was Wilson's first winning season in four years under Coach Bill Powell.
Wilson will be without all-Met guard Joe Burney, the Interhigh's leading scorer, who averaged 22.6 points. But in his place, all-league forward Chris Cheeks (6-3) has moved to guard and the results are promising. Cheeks, who enjoys running the transition game, proved his value in Wilson's opening-game victory over Maret. The three-year starter scored a game-high 25 points in the easy 80-66 victory. Forward Kenneth James' 14.4 average will be needed.
H.D. Woodson (10-10 and 13-14) has two experienced guards back -- Henry Ellis and Timothy Chase. Ellis, who likes the transition game, scored a career-high 33 points in Woodson's opening victory over Carroll.
Eastern (8-12 and 13-14) has four starters back and has the talent and experience to better last season's record. Center Derrick Daniels (6-7 1/2) and guard Jeffrey Holloman are the keys.
Anacostia finished fourth in the league last season and will depend on senior guard Harold Jackson. He scored 25 points in the Indians' 69-49 victory over Gar-Field last Friday. McKinley, which had its first losing season in 10 years, returns only two seniors.
When Ballou opened its season beating Mackin, 71-60, it had four players in double figures, but it lost last Friday to University City (Pa.).
Roosevelt will be rebuilding and Cardozo will be trying to find someone to complement all-league guard Earl Moore.