The scar on Antioch junior Tiashawn Cannon's left knee is a reminder that any basketball game could be his last, and that's how he has been playing this year.
Cannon, who had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocked shots in the Eagles' 71-53 win Friday against Annapolis Area Christian School, had reconstructive surgery on his knee last year after landing awkwardly after a dunk. This year, he is the team's leading scorer with an average of 12.4 points per game.
"I thought I wasn't going to heal right because I didn't do the therapy I was supposed to," said Cannon, a 6-foot-3 center who also leads the team in rebounding. "I just prayed to God my knee would heal, and it did."
Cannon, who lives in Baltimore County, leaves home about 5:30 a.m. daily and rides light rail and a bus to reach the Arnold school. He left the Baltimore County public school system after middle school and is finding it a struggle to get college recruiters to notice him at Antioch, which has an enrollment of about 100 and a carpeted gym that is also used for church services. Players also aren't allowed to wear shorts at games or practices.
Still, his ability to dominate the inside game has opposing coaches struggling to prepare for Antioch. With his help, Antioch entered this week 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the Maryland Church School Athletic League.
"He's our Shaq," senior guard Wayne Brown said. "That's the role he plays. He rebounds and he stops their big men."
Brown and 6-1 junior point guard Chris Green were major factors in Antioch's two wins this year against AACS. Brown leads the team with 24 assists and 41 steals, and Green follows with 21 assists and 36 steals. Antioch forced 53 turnovers in the two games and made 14 steals last Friday.
"To be 12-4 and have played some of the better nonconference opponents, sometimes I think back and wonder how am I 12-4," Coach Jerry Humphrey said. "This is my 21st year and by far the quickest team I've ever had. We're not a big school; we don't play in a big-name conference; but for our size, we seem to be pretty successful."
Rathlev Makes Sudden Impact
Broadneck freshman wrestler Xavier Rathlev knew coming into high school that opponents would be bigger and stronger than those he faced in junior league -- his brother, Jordan, was a county and region champ for the Bruins two years ago. Nobody told him, though, his match might decide an entire meet.
Rathlev, known as "X-Man" to his coaches and teammates, was the final wrestler in last week's match against North County. He won a 12-4 major decision in the 125-pound weight class, giving Broadneck a 37-34 win. Entering this week, Broadneck, Old Mill and Chesapeake were the only undefeated teams in the county.
"Coming down to the last match, it motivated me more than usual," said Rathlev, who is usually one of the first athletes to wrestle.
"He went out and wrestled the kid tough," Broadneck Coach Jake Vickery said. "They both knew it was on them, but Xavier was able to avoid that kind of pitfall. He's got a very good sense of balance. In all three phases of wrestling, on his feet, on top and on bottom, he's one of, if not the best, wrestler we have in the room."
Sherrod, Glen Burnie Blossom
Glen Burnie senior Tony Sherrod refused to go through basketball season the way he went through football season: losing.
Sherrod, the second-leading scorer on the team at 11.9 points per game, has taken on a new role. Last year he came off the bench. This year he is expected to contribute every game. He most recently scored 14 points in a win against Arundel, then added 10 against Meade.
"Now I'm one of the leaders, one of the players that has to step up," he said. "I had to accept the role. Now it's all up to me. I think I've handled it pretty good.
"It's a lot more fun coming into practice 10-2 instead of 1-8, that feels a lot better," he added. "We had athletes; we just weren't a team. Now the basketball team, the five we have, we play as a team."