The North County Knights will look to an untested, 5-foot-6 junior making his first appearance on the varsity team to fill the shoes of all-county guard Kevin Hammack, who now plays Division I basketball as a freshman for The Citadel.

Frankie Amador, with only one year of high school junior varsity experience, will be the floor general for North County this season. And while Coach Mike Francis doesn't immediately expect Amador to match the 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists that Hammack averaged last season, he hopes Amador develops into a mature player.

"Leadership, overall, on and off the court, in the classroom -- that's what I'm looking for from Frankie," Francis said. "I want Frankie to step up and take command. The [guys] won't follow if no one's leading."

Amador, taking a break during last week's three-way scrimmage against Friendly and Wilde Lake, acknowledged that he is nervous about stepping into the shoes of North County's all-time leader in points, assists and steals.

"Of course I've got to be nervous. That's a lot of pressure to live up to," Amador said. "[But] I've got to go out and play like I know I can play.

"Nobody can fill [Hammack's] shoes. Just learning how to lead the team is what I have to do. I studied Kevin when he was on varsity."

Amador has a quiet demeanor and speaks in a soft voice. Francis called him "kind of reserved." But from the point guard position he will be looked upon to direct the offense as it makes its way down the floor. Francis said he wants Amador "to be vocal, to speak up when someone's not doing something right and pat them on the back when they are."

Amador is a pass-first, shoot-second kind of player. He likens his style of play to that of NBA assist wizards Jason Kidd of New Jersey and Mike Bibby of Sacramento. It's not that Amador thinks he has a poor outside shot; he would just rather dish off than be the guy who looks for the shot every time.

"I can shoot, but I'm not out there just looking for my shot," he said. "I look to get the team involved first."

Senior forward Dave Bafford, who is 6-4, and senior forward Marcus Dixon, who is 6-2, are the two players Francis sees carrying the scoring load this season. Beyond Bafford and Dixon -- who played, but didn't start, on varsity last season -- the Knights are a "whole new team," Francis said. "Everyone else we're teaching every day."

If North County is to match its 16-8 record of last season, it will need Amador to control his speed and not fold under the pressure of following a legend.

"I just have to go out and play," Amador said. "I can't worry about what everyone's thinking. They're always going to look up to Kevin Hammack."

Girls After a forgettable season in 2001-02, the Knights' girls will get some help this season in the form of two tall newcomers: a transfer student and a freshman forward. Those additions have longtime coach Sally Entsminger feeling good. Sophomore center Kate LeBon comes over from Seton Keough in Baltimore and at 6 feet will step into the center position. Freshman Ashley Jones is also 6 feet, and she will be asked to make an impact on the boards.

"We've got two key young players. I think they will handle things just fine," said Entsminger, who has coached high school basketball in Maryland for 33 years, the last 12 at North County.

Alongside LeBon and Jones are senior guards Leondra Wright and Torae Paige and sophomore point guard Jessica German, all of whom started at least part of last season. In addition, Entsminger said she is looking for some big scoring from Katherine Fries, a junior guard.

The rebounding and ballhandling are much improved, but the biggest difference is in attitude.

"These kids hate losing," Entsminger said. "I see a huge difference. They're not even close to the same players they were last year."

Boys' Schedule

Dec. 13 vs. Annapolis, 7:15

Dec 16 vs. Mount Carmel, 5:30

Dec. 19 at Northeast, 5:15

Dec. 27-28 at Landstown, TBA

Jan. 3 vs. Old Mill, 7:15

Jan. 7 at Meade, 7:15

Jan. 10 vs. Broadneck, 7:15

Jan. 14 at Arundel, 7:15

Jan. 17 vs. Severna Park, 7:15

Jan. 21 at South River, 5:15

Jan. 24 vs. Chesapeake, 7:15

Jan. 31 vs. Southern, 7:15

Feb. 4 at Glen Burnie, 7:15

Feb. 7 vs. Northeast, 7:15

Feb. 11 at Old Mill, 7:15

Feb. 14 vs. Meade, 7:15

Feb. 18 at Chesapeake, 7:15

Feb. 21 vs. Glen Burnie, 7:16

Girls' Schedule

Dec. 13 vs. Annapolis, 5:15

Dec. 17 at Broadneck, 5:15

Dec. 19 at Northeast, 7:15

Jan. 3 vs. Old Mill, 5:15

Jan. 7 at Meade, 5:15

Jan. 10 vs. Broadneck, 5:15

Jan. 14 at Arundel, 5:15

Jan. 17 vs. Severna Park, 5:15

Jan. 21 at South River, 7:15

Jan. 24 vs. Chesapeake, 5:15

Jan. 31 vs. Southern, 5:15

Feb. 4 at Glen Burnie, 5:15

Feb. 7 vs. Northeast, 5:15

Feb. 11 at Old Mill, 5:15

Feb. 14 vs. Meade, 5:15

Feb. 18 at Chesapeake, 5:15

Feb. 21 vs. Glen Burnie, 5:15

Dave Bafford and Nastassia Williams of North County. The Knights' boys will miss Kevin Hammack, who averaged 21 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists.