Twenty years ago, Bladensburg High's basketball coach, Roy Henderson, hired Ernie Welch and Marvin Vann. Now two decades later, they're together again at High Point High.
Two years ago High Point's longtime coach, Al Moraz, left to coach the plebe team at Navy; and Vann, who is also High Point's assistant principal, took over and directed the Eagles to a 14-10 record. But his administrative duties took precedence, so the school's athletic director, John Voight, got Welch to coach this fall. Welch had been out of basketball since leaving Bladensburg in 1981.
"I'm the head coach, but that doesn't mean that I'm the best coach on the staff," said Welch, who at Bladensburg coached Thurl Bailey, now with the Utah Jazz. "They're is no ego problem with us. We're all having a great time coaching together again. I can't tell you how much easier things are when you have two expereienced coaches like Marvin and Roy around. Because of them, we can can give each player much more individual attention than I could by myself."
Moreover, Welch has one of his former Bladensburg players, John Wozel, as the Eagles' junior varsity coach.
"I don't know of any high school in this area with as experienced and knowledgeable a staff as this one," said Welch. "(Vann) showed what he could do last year and when he used to coach at Pallotti and Roy Henderson built consistent winners at Bladensburg, Central and Friendly. He's probably the best public school coach in the state."
Henderson, who won a state title at Bladensburg with Welch and Vann as his assistants, retired from coaching two years ago, but still teaches at Friendly. He makes the halfway-around-the Beltway trek to High Point each day to assist Welch. Vann continues as assistant principal and has stayed on as an assistant coach.
The brain trust notwithstanding, basketball games are won with talent more often than guile and here, too, High Point is loaded.
Juniors Danny Dean and Glenson Sitney are both 6 feet 6 and on the verge of stardom, Welch said. They have provided the inside power for the Eagles' 4-1 start. Point guard Steve Brown is an adept ball handler and guides the team's pressure man-to-man defense. John Scott plays the wing guard, where his consistent jump shot keeps teams from sagging too much on Dean and Sitney. Eugene Hampton is a 6-3 forward who can jump and plays defense well.
"I don't know if we're equal with Suitland, Crossland or Northwestern now, but I think we can play with anyone else in the county," said Welch. "We won't be playing any of those schools until February, and by that time, I hope we'll be ready."
Saturday's 88-50 victory over Barlett of Anchorage in the first round of the Belk basketball tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. meant something special to DeMatha basketball Coach Morgan Wootten. It was his 800th career victory since he came to the Hyattsville school 29 years ago.
His basketball record is 800-106, including 8-1 this year . He has been athletic director since 1956 and coached varsity football 12 years.
Poolesville's girls basketball team got off to a surprising 4-1 start. Bridget Burke was a key, averaging 23 points per game for Montgomery County's only Class C team . . . Bullis' Julie Rolapp is averaging eight assists and scoring 18 points.