AAU Players Get Second Chances

After graduating from Central High in 1997, Chucky Alston was on track for a successful collegiate athletic career. He received a football scholarship to Marshall University, where he would be on the same team as wide receiver Randy Moss.

However, Alston lasted less than one month at Marshall before dropping out. Eventually, he wound up at Independence (Kan.) Junior College, where he attended classes but did not play sports this past school year. He intends to return to Independence in the fall to play defensive end in football and center in basketball.

"I wasn't ready for college yet," Alston said of his brief stay at Marshall. "I was young. I didn't know whether I wanted to be in college; I was partying all the time."

This past weekend, Alston, who is 6 feet 6 and weighs 260 pounds, played for Executive III in the Amateur Athletic Union Eastern Zone Junior Men's Tournament at Largo High. He scored 13 points in an 83-80 loss to AC Simmion on Sunday.

AC Simmion, led by Lee Guinn's 26 points, advanced to play Team Maryland in the championship game on Saturday night. Guinn, a 1996 graduate of now-defunct McKinley High in Northeast Washington, averaged eight points per game as a freshman at Champlain Junior College in Burlington, Vt., this past season. However, while most players have their eyes set on playing major college basketball and dream of playing in the NBA, Guinn said he is focused on making a living after he is done with college.

"I want to start my own funeral home," he said. "I don't want to play professionals; if it comes, that is fine. But realistically, I'm just trying to get something steady and take care of my family. Funeral homes never go out of business."

Queen Anne Rises in Softball

After failing to defend its Potomac Valley Athletic Conference title, the Queen Anne School softball team won the Maryland Private Schools Tournament Silver Division championship, defeating Chapelgate of Anne Arundel County, 4-2, in Thursday's final.

Senior pitcher Michelle Edelen, who will play for Lynchburg College next year, struck out 15 and junior first baseman Leah Littlefield drove in two runs to lead Queen Anne, which was making its first appearance in the tournament. Queen Anne, which finished 14-3, lost to Oakcrest in the PVAC tournament final.

"It's a big win for us," Queen Anne Coach Trevor McCallam said. "When we lost in the PVAC, the girls were determined to at least win the state championship, and they came through. . . . I'm happy for all the seniors on the team. They worked hard this year and they were rewarded."

Pallotti Thrives as Well

The Pallotti softball team followed a similar script en route to falling in another championship game. This time it was in the Maryland Private Schools Tournament Gold Division, in which the Panthers lost to Spalding, 3-2, in eight innings Thursday.

Pallotti, which finished 20-5, also lost by one run (to O'Connell) in the championship game of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament. The Panthers lost the WCAC and Maryland Private Schools tournament finals to those same teams last season.

Still, retiring coach Dan Hogan said he was pleased with the team's performance this season. Freshman pitcher Amy Salkeld, who surrendered six hits in the loss to Spalding, finished 16-3 with a 1.70 earned run average; she also batted .329. All-Met shortstop Kelli Leachman led the Panthers offensively, batting .563 with 27 runs scored and 37 runs batted in.

"It was a great year," Hogan said. "The kids played hard all year long and exceeded probably everyone's expectations. We're satisfied."

CAPTION: AC Simmion's Kenya Williams drives to the basket as Executive III's Russell Jones, left, and two teammates defend. AC Simmion won the AAU tournament game, 83-80.