Back when his dad was assistant general manager for the Washington Bullets, it was no surprise when St. Mary's senior Mike Zurfluh picked up a basketball and began chasing a dream of his own.

Zurfluh's father, Bob, is now an assistant athletic director at George Washington University, which gave Mike Zurfluh an opportunity to be a ballboy at NCAA tournament games in 1994 and 1998.

Although his father never played in college, his profession exposed Mike to the game at a young age. Now Mike is a top-notch perimeter shooter looking to lead the Saints to their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship.

This year is their best chance, Zurfluh said.

"Just to put a banner up in school would feel real good, especially since it's the first one," he said. "What better way to go out than to win?"

The team's goal last season was to make the playoffs, which it did. The Saints finished 17-10 and advanced to the MIAA B Conference semifinals, where they lost to Gilman. With one more year of experience behind them, the expectations are higher.

Five senior starters, including Zurfluh, make for a deep, talented team capable of playing a strong game inside and out. Senior center Jeff Postell, 6-feet-5 and also a linebacker, gained about 15 pounds since last season and set a goal of averaging a double-double per game. Senior forward-guard Marcus Perry is a gritty defensive player who can shoot off the dribble, and senior guards Ben Shriner and Scott Gauthier are strong ballhandlers.

"We should definitely go the distance if we play our game," Gauthier said. "We've been together so long, we're more of a mature team. We know what each other does best. Zurfluh can shoot; Postell will take it down low; everyone can handle the ball; we can all play defense. . . . I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."

Postell, Perry and Zurfluh each averaged double digits last season and are expected to lead the team in scoring again. Zurfluh and Postell spent the offseason training with Bob Ferry, former general manager of the Bullets. This summer, the Saints competed in the Lake Waterford League, where they advanced to the championship game.

"We had a pretty decent year last year, and we're hoping to prove to a lot of people we're something special," Zurfluh said. "Our goal is to win the championships. We're not saying let's just make the playoffs. We can be one of the best teams we've ever had at St. Mary's."

Girls With only one senior, the Saints again are a young team, and like last season they lack a strong inside game. Still, the guard-oriented team is loaded with talent and will be tough to beat in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. Sophomore Bri Gauthier started on the varsity team as a freshman and led the Saints with 12.8 points per game. She was also the top perimeter shooter in the Washington area with 68 three-pointers and contributed 4.7 rebounds and four assists per game.

"I think we have a pretty good chance; we look really good," Gauthier said. "We were good last year, but since we were so young we made those mistakes."

Sophomore guard Breon Summers transferred to Severna Park and will be missed, but the Saints have talent in sophomore guard Bridgit Noon, who was second on the team last season with 9.7 points per game, and Julie Gladchuk, the team's lone senior. The guards led the team to an 8-2 record and third-place finish in the Montgomery County fall league.

There are also high expectations for Texas transfer Jamie Latta, a versatile athlete who is taking a break from soccer for the first time to try basketball. Latta is a physical athlete who will help the Saints in the post, along with sophomore Sharnae Hunt, who started six games last season.

Boys' Schedule

Dec. 13 at John Carroll, 6:30

Dec. 16 at Annapolis, 7

Dec. 18 vs. Loyola 6

Dec. 20 vs. Gilman, 7

Dec. 23 vs. Mount St. Joseph, 6

Dec. 27-28 at Christmas Tournament, TBA

Jan. 3 at Boys' Latin, 7

Jan. 7 vs. St. Paul's, 6

Jan. 8 at Friends, 5:45

Jan. 11 at Pallotti, 7

Jan. 14 vs. Annapolis Area Christian School, 6

Jan. 18 at Severn, 4

Jan. 21 vs. Curley, 6

Jan. 24 vs. John Carroll, 7

Jan. 26 vs. Steppenock, 2

Jan. 29 at Gilman, 6

Jan. 31 vs. Boys' Latin, 7

Feb. 4 at St. Paul's, 4:15

Feb. 7 vs. Pallotti, 7

Feb. 11 vs. Friends, 6

Feb. 13 at St. Mary's Ryken, 6

Feb. 14 vs. Severn, 7

Feb. 18-22 MIAA Tournament, TBA

Girls' Schedule

Dec. 14 at Southern, 2

Dec. 17 vs. Old Mill, 4

Dec. 18 at McDonogh, 4

Dec. 20 at Mount De Sales, 5:30

Dec. 26 at Christmas Tournament, TBA

Jan. 3 vs. Institute of Notre Dame, 4

Jan. 6 at John Carroll, 4

Jan. 8 vs. Mercy, 4

Jan. 10 vs. Roland Park, 4

Jan. 22 vs. St. John's, 4

Jan. 24 at Notre Dame Prep, 5:30

Jan. 25 at Seton Keough, 3:30

Jan. 27 vs. St. Frances, 4

Jan. 29 vs. Bryn Mawr, 5:30

Jan. 31 at Spalding, 7:30

Feb. 5 vs. Seton Keough, 3:45

Feb. 10 vs. McDonogh, 4

Feb. 12 vs. Mount De Sales, 4

Feb. 18-21 at IAAM Tournament, TBA

Bri Gauthier and Henry Harrison look for good seasons. As a freshman, Gauthier led the Saints with 12.8 points per game, including 68 three-pointers. "I think we have a pretty good chance; we look really good," Gauthier said.