"It's All About The Game"
MIAA Championships don't disappoint
Ron Bailey, Publisher
February 19, 2015 - Frigid temperatures complete with snow and ice on the grown couldn't derail this year's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship, as Sunday fans still flocked to UMBC's Retriever's Athletic Center to take in A, B and C Conference games. Following are recaps.
Two time defending champion Indian Creek faced Beth Tfiloh for the second time in a row in 'chip action, again dispatching them, this time via a 53-45 score. IC led 26-18 at intermission, withstanding a late BT run whittling their lead to five before enjoying a third consecutive C Conference crown.
Donovan Moore, attacking the lane for Indian Creek.
"It feels great knowing we got a three-peat, because we worked hard since last year" said sophomore forward Donovan Moore of IC garnering a rare three straight championships. Adding to the feat was doing it with a number of different pieces, to which Moore noted "We just kind of jelled as the season kept going.
On a personal level, he lauded his teammates, as "without them, I wouldn't really have worked hard. They pushed me in workouts, pushed me to be a better player knowing I would be starting this year". This summer is a big one for him; if he further develops his ball handling and confidence, while continuing to his shooting work, Moore, standing 6'4" and weighing 175 pounds could be a major player for IC next season.
Moore finished with eight points and several rebounds, while junior forward Devin Garrett led the team with 15 points. Junior guard Dominic Day scored 11 for IC, who finished the season at 20-6 overall and a stellar 15-1 in conference.
BT got a game high 16 points from senior guard Jordan King. Classmate Kani Katz, a forward supplied 13 points to 21-6/14-2, BT.
After leading 38-25 at halftime, it looked like Boy's Latin would easily atone for last year's finals loss to St. Paul's. Annapolis Area Christian didn't get the memo, battling back to within five to with mere seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Answering the call for BL (24-6, 11-2), as he did throughout the tilt was senior guard Pat Spencer, whose jumper at the buzzer padded his team's lead. His work was crucial in the team's 67-62 victory.
Pat Spencer of Boy's Latin provided answers.
"I try to do whatever we need as a team" said Spencer afterward, over the din from BL's raucous fans. "Coming into the season I as mainly supposed to be a scorer, but we needed more of a point guard role. I decided I would take up on that".
Spencer displayed that willingness to find teammates Sunday consistently, including a pass to junior forward Kodye Pugh (24 points) with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation, securing a 66-60 lead.
Spencer could be a collegiate basketball player, but has decided to attend Loyola to play lacrosse. Expect the 6'3", 200 pound attacker to excel there.
Justin Williams of AAC (17-8, 9-4) kept his team second half contention, getting to the hoop and hitting three pointers, such as the back to back long balls that closed his team's deficit to 64-57 under a minute left in regulation.
A Maryland 3D (AAU) standout, Williams could really improve his recruiting stock this summer by showing more of a penchant to find teammates and play within the offense's structure.
In the day's finale, the two best teams in the MIAA's best conference put on a show, ending as a 71-68 Calvert Hall victory over regular season champ Mount Carmel. Both now head to Baltimore Catholic League playoff action, the former standing 26-5/14-4, the latter 26-7/15-3.
Mount Carmel, reduced by five players due to expulsions earned during a dust up - including two contributors who played solid first half minutes - showed incredible grit, battling back from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to trail only three with 20 seconds left. Sophomore guard Terry Nolan's three made the score 71-68, driving MC's fans into delirium.
Calvert Hall's Nico Clareth, challenging Mount Carmel's Montez Mathes (23) and Will Jenkins III off the bounce.
A subsequent missed layup by CH junior forward Justin Gorham (team high 16 points and 11 rebounds) opened up a chance for MC to tie: Freshman forward Montez Mathis found Nolan for another long ball opportunity, but the shot rimmed off.
"I think the last play as such, I gave the ball up to Terry, he had hit a big three. So I trusted him to hit another one" recalled Mathis of that last, pressure packed play. "And he just came up short".
Nolan, who stars with the Baltimore Supreme travel team scored 14 points, 10 in the second half. Senior big man Will Jenkins III also scored 14.
Mathis (game high 19 points), who indicated he's getting recruiting looks from "Maryland, Temple, Virginia, West Virginia" believes he and Nolan "grew a lot" from the loss. This spring/summer with Team Takeover's 16u unit, expect Mathis to continue his shooting work - which has improved a lot this year by "keeping my fundamentals down". An uber-competitor, Mathis understands "I have to get a lot stronger with the ball" and "finish a lot of layups in the paint".
CH was able to expand slim a 28-27 lead to eight at third quarter's end by getting the ball to the rim.
"We knew they were in foul trouble, so we wanted to go at them" shared senior CH guard, Drew Edwards. Senior center Evan Phoenix, a future Central Connecticut State student-athlete was a focal point of that strategy, scoring six of his 15 points in the early third quarter.
Edwards (11 points) admitted of MC "They lost some big players" after the fourth period disqualifications, including Frank Webb, a senior guard who still finished with 12 points. Despite the over 20 minute delay created by referee video review, Edwards believed MC "wore down a little bit". For the record, two CH players were also ejected, with Phoenix becoming ineligible later.
The victory saw CH take out the A Conference's first placed team, though at number two "We should have been number one, we had some injuries, we weren't at 100%" said Edwards.
A Providence-bound guard who indicated he's been told by Head Friar Ed Cooley and assistant coach Brian Blaney "to shoot the ball" next season, something he admitted enjoying.
Senior point guard Reggie Rouse added 14 points for the victors. His classmate and future Siena perimeter player Nico Clareth logged 12 points in the rousing win.
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