Memories of a high school athletic career often focus on a single game, perhaps the upset of an archrival, but memories also can revolve around a place, especially when that place is Capital Centre.

For more than a decade, the Washington Bullets have allowed local high school basketball teams to play preliminary games at Capital Centre. For many, the chance to play on the same floor on which Larry Bird and Michael Jordan do is the thrill of a lifetime.

"This year, we'll have preliminary games before 30 of our 41 home games," said Craig Estrain, advertising and promotions director for the Bullets. "And the only reason we don't have preliminaries before every game is because of logistical and operational problems due to switching over from a hockey game or a concert."

Maryland public schools aren't allowed to participate in these preliminaries, since local rules preclude the higher ticket prices. And even some private schools don't like giving up a home game, but for others the chance to play at Capital Centre is a great enticement.

Players, coaches, managers and cheerleaders from each school are given complimentary passes to the Bullets game played afterward, but each school is asked to sell 300 tickets for the game.

"We give them $13 tickets for $7 and many schools use this as a fundraiser," said Estrain. Many schools enjoy this so much that they ask for extra tickets. When some schools don't sell their quota, we don't charge them for the difference."

Upcoming high school preliminary games include Georgetown Day vs. Sheridan Jan. 17 and Capitol Christian against Riverdale Baptist Jan. 31.

Gaithersburg has named Tim Noble its new baseball coach. Noble, who was the Trojans' junior varsity coach last season, succeeds Joe Mencarini, who left after last season to coach Walter Johnson's football team.

Don Gooden is Magruder's new indoor track coach. Gooden also serves as the school's cross country and track coach. And Gene Tom has been named as the Colonels' girls soccer coach.

Two of the best college basketball prospects in the Middle Atlantic area play for small Howard County high schools. Barry Young, Mount Hebron's 6-foot-6 junior swing man, has been listed by several publications as one of the best players in Maryland. Quinton Burton, Hammond's 6-7 senior forward, is being pursued by Providence, Michigan State, Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth and James Madison.

Gary McIntosh, a two-time All-Met quarterback from Gonzaga, has made a verbal commitment to attend Maryland. McIntosh, who lives in White Oak, is one of the most highly recruited football players to come out of the Washington area in years. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound McIntosh said he selected Maryland because he likes the Terrapins' offensive system and was very impressed with Coach Bobby Ross.

Magruder's Karin Vadelund has accepted a basketball scholarship to George Washington. Vadelund will join former Colonels teammate Tracy Earley and Paint Branch graduate Gloria Murphy, both now freshmen with the Colonials. Vadelund, a 6-foot forward, is averaging 19.7 points per game for Magruder . . . Angela Pleasants, Kennedy's 6-1 center, has signed with Connecticut. Pleasants is averaging 16 rebounds per game.