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The Calvert girls basketball program has won the last two Class 2A state championships.

They will try for a three-peat this winter with new head coach Tim Contee behind the bench.

“I’m really excited to be back in my old high school, my old town,” said Contee, who graduated in 2003. “It’s like a dream come true. I’m living a dream kind of. It’s unbelievable. I’m very blessed to get the position.”

Contee beat out three other candidates to replace Frank Moore, who stepped down in order to take over the Northern boys program.

“I think he’ll be successful and I think he’ll be a lot different than coach Moore was and that’s to be expected,” Calvert athletic director Brad Criss said. “Whether or not we’re going to win a state championship again remains to be seen, but I know it’s right up there for the goals for him and his girls.”

Contee had a stellar career as a Cavalier. His senior season, Contee led the team in three-pointers with 33 and had a 22-point game including five three-pointers in a Class 3A South Region first round game against La Plata. He was named to the All-County first team his junior and senior campaigns.

Contee played basketball at West Virginia State University during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons and finished with a career average of 20-plus minutes as well as seven points and two rebounds a game. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range and added 44 steals.

During the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Contee was an assistant under Calvert head boys basketball coach Jeremy Kurutz.

“I'm very happy for Tim to get this opportunity,” Kurutz said. “Tim has been a player, a coach and a student of the game his entire life. As an assistant coach, Tim was instrumental in helping me build the boys program when I began as a head coach. I expect great things from him.”

Last season, Contee played basketball in Sweden and had planned to return though he said things didn’t work out. He returned home in April, landed a job as a teacher at Yardley Hills Head Start preschool in Prince Frederick and was looking into coaching again when Moore stepped down.

“He’s seen different coaches and he’s been overseas, so he’s seen that style of play, so I think he brings more to the table than other young coaches and just with his enthusiasm,” Criss said. “And he’s a local kid; I love hiring alumni back at our school, especially if they’re quality coaches.”

The 27-year-old Contee will be assisted by mentor and longtime coach Dwayne Johnson and Nate Rivers, who was an assistant on the junior varsity team last year.

“I want my players to be very fundamentally sound and in extremely good condition and to really think the game and not just run up and down the court, but think the game,” Contee said when asked his coaching philosophy. “And to have mental toughness, fight even when you’re tired. And my other philosophy is we can’t play basketball all our lives. Whatever you do you have to do it to the best of your ability and 100 percent. That’s the most important thing not only on the court but in life and the classroom and that’s the most important thing for me.”

Living up to expectations?

Calvert won the Class 2A state championship the past two years and last year won 26 of 27 games.

“Tim has always worked hard at his game, even now, and will expect nothing less from his team,” Kurutz said. “His youthful energy is going to go a long way. His playing resume will earn him the respect of his players. His knowledge will help them improve.”

The Cavaliers lost four players in guards Rachel Loube and Tiara Lester, forward Braedyn Mims and center Kelly Collins to graduation.

“I don’t consider it pressure because it’s a new program and new coach and new assistant coaches,” Contee said, “so I don’t feel any pressure, no.”

“Pressure when it comes to basketball is nothing new to Tim, he'll be fine,” Kurutz said. “The red tape of being a coach is where he'll have his extra work, but we all go through that our first year. Being a head coach is a different animal than being an assistant; there is a lot of work to do that nobody ever sees. It's a big sacrifice for you and your family.”

Criss said he needed to hire someone who would be able to withstand the heart of trying to win a third-straight state title, but he thinks he found that person in the form of Contee.

“We definitely had to find someone who could stand up to that fire and maybe placed in that [fire],” Criss said. “Being a top player in college and being the top player in the conference, he’s been in those situations before and he’ll get thrown in those situations right away this year.”

Contee said success will come with everyone working as one.

“People have talent, but they still need to be coached,” he said. “They’re the ones playing, they’re the ones on the court. You can have all the talent in the world and still lose games because your players aren’t buying into what you say. You all need to be on the same page and believe in each other.”

When asked if he was hoping to bring a third-straight state hoops banner back to Calvert High, Contee laughed mightily.

“Of course to win it is our goal,” he said. “So would anything less than a win at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s RAC Arena on March 9 be a disappointment? “I would think so, yeah.”

mreid@somdnews.com