Broadneck's Johnny Williams had seen the frustration before. He even warned teammate Jeff Vincent before the Bruins opened play in yesterday's fifth annual Wes Unseld New Year's Classic basketball tournament at Catonsville Community College.
"This is my third year here," said Williams, who led the Bruins to an opening-round victory over Southwestern, 72-61. "We never have played well in the first game here. It's the dome, the wide-open space.
"I told Jeff that every good shooter we've ever had came into this big court and shot poorly. It takes some adjustment."
Vincent kept rimming shots, some of which even seemed to go into the net and spin out.
Williams showed no signs of needing adjustment, pacing the No. 10-ranked Bruins (6-1) with a game-high 26 points.
The 5-foot-11 senior guard is accustomed to pressure. He was a key defender for the Bruins as they advanced to the state Class 4A soccer finals last fall, and he was a starter last winter when the Bruins won their third straight Wes Unseld Classic title.
While Williams had a hot hand from the opening tap, Vincent's game was as cold as the chilly domed arena at Catonsville.
"Coach [Ken Kazmarek] just told me to keep putting them up and they would start to fall," said Vincent, who finished with 18 points, including nine free throws in the final period.
The Bruins had trailed by 10 in the third quarter before Williams hit two straight jumpers to alter the momentum.
"We didn't play very good defense in the first half," said Williams, "but we did when we had to in the fourth quarter."
Vincent's follow-up tied the score at 56 with 4:10 remaining and Southwestern did not score another point for more than three minutes. By then, the Bruins led 63-58 with only 45 seconds remaining. Vincent and Williams then sank seven of 10 free throws to seal the victory.
Damian Spain added 12 points for Broadneck and Matt Weimer had 10.
Michael Williams paced Southwestern with 17 and freshman Haywood Eaddy contributed 16.
"We weren't sharp, but we showed a lot of character coming back to win," said Kazmarek. "I wasn't worried about Jeff's shooting, though. Kenny Wood came in here two years ago for us and the same thing happened in the first game. It happens.
Broadneck is slated to meet No. 15 Woodlawn tonight (8 o'clock) in the semifinals. The Warriors avenged an earlier loss to Randallstown, winning 63-51 behind Carlos Paul's 16 points. Trent Thames and Calvin Moore each added 15 as the Warriors went on an 11-3 run in the third quarter to gain a commanding lead.
No. 7 Mount St. Joe (6-3) is to face Edmondson (1-0) in the other (6:15) semifinal tonight. St. Joe raced past Forest Park, 100-69, and Edmondson held off Hammond, 83-77.
Jeff Servidio had 19 points and Patrick Young added 17 for St. Joe, playing without top scorer Darrin Jones. Eric Bazemore paced Forest Park (0-1) with a game-high 26 points.
Edmondson got 22 points from Devin Ross and 20 from Corey Daniels.
The tourney winds up Friday (8 p.m.).
Elsewhere, in girls action:
* No. 1-ranked Western (6-0) defeated DuVal, 62-42, in the opening round of the IAABO Tournament at Prince Georges Community College. The Doves were paced by Dana Johnson's 24 points.
* No. 3 Mount Hebron (5-2) lost to Springbrook, 63-45, in the same tourney.
* No. 4 Seton Keough (5-2) upended No. 2 Walbrook (1-1) in overtime, 52-48, in the Hoops Division of the Holly-N-Hoops Tournament at UMBC. Seton Keough advances to tonight's 9 o'clock final against Severna Park. The No. 5 Falcons (6-1) topped No. 15 Parkville, 58-35, getting balanced scoring from Kerri Schmale and Lori Habicht (10 points each).
Seton Keough's victory was coach Trish Cook's 300th in this, her 17th and last season. Melissa Cuneo led the Gators with 18 points and Mickie Burns had 14.
Parkville (5-2) was without its top scorer, Laurie Bender, who is out with a knee injury. Joy Burns paced the Knights with 18 points.
* No. 10 North Harford and Southern-AA advanced to tonight's finals (5 o'clock) of the Holly Division.
North Harford (4-1) downed Leonardtown, 59-38, behind Carrie James' 27 points and 18 rebounds. Southern (3-3) defeated IND (2-2), 45-38, as Laekeka Wesley scored 19 points.