We had a couple of surprises on "showdown weekend," surprises that might be a true indication of what is to come on the high school hoop scene in both boys and girls action.
It was "showdown weekend" in that at least two boys' games and three girls' games may have given us sneak previews of championship games to come. Four of those would be regional title games and the other would be a Baltimore Catholic League final between St. Mary's and Seton Keough.
Class 2A schools, Northeast and Southern, provided a striking contrast in boys and girls play with each a surprise winner in their respective class. And despite not being at full strength, the St. Mary's girls beat Baltimore Catholic League-power Seton Keough for the first time ever.
Class 4A power Annapolis (9-0) beat Broadneck (8-2) Friday night, 43-36, as expected, for its 21st win in a row over two years and its 10th in 12 games against the Bruins. Meanwhile, Northeast was destroying Southern of Harwood, 84-52, in a Class 2A matchup.
That Northeast won is no surprise, but the margin of victory sure is. The teams went into the game as two of the Class 2A Region III leaders (Prince George's County teams are involved) and potential regional finalists come late February.
Southern (7-2) had just won its own Christmas tournament, while Northeast (7-2) had taken the Bob Pascal Tournament over a pair of 4A schools. A tight game was expected, but obviously no one told Steve Strauss of the Eagles.
The 6-foot-3 senior lighted up the Pasadena gym for Coach Johnny Barbour's victorious Eagles. Strauss scored 38, tying a pair of school records for most points in a game and most three-pointers. The 38 points tied a mark set by George Harrington of the Eagles back in 1977, and the six three-pointers tied the mark of teammate Gene Pleyo, who did it just last February, ironically enough against Southern.
On the night, Strauss was 15-for-25 from the floor, including six of 12 from long distance. At the line, he was 2-for-2. In addition, Strauss had nine rebounds, two assists and three steals. It was a spectacular effort.
Pleyo chipped in with 15 points as he and Strauss tallied more than half (53) of the Eagle points.
Certainly the lopsided victory established Northeast as the county's top 2A team. Barbour, whose Eagles finished at 17-7 and the Region III runner-up to Central High of Prince George's a year ago, may be better than even the coach expected.
In contrast, the Northeast girls were expected by many to beat Southern. But Linda Kilpatrick's Dawgs pulled off a 45-43 upset in overtime in Pasadena Friday night. Southern (4-3) overcame an 11-point deficit in the final period on an enemy court to upset the Eagles (5-4).
"Tammy Kuebel got hot for us in the third period (scoring 10 of hergame-high 19 points in the third) with a couple of three-pointers to help us build the lead," said losing coach Calvin Vain, whose club went up 11 with about five minutes to play.
"Southern came back with a couple of quick baskets and all of a sudden it was tied with about two minutes to go," he said. "The lead changed hands several times,and then we missed two shots at the end to win it. We went into overtime, and they got a couple quick baskets to beat us."
Southern outscored Northeast, 6-4, in the extra period. The Dawgs were led by Laekeka Wesley's 15 points, a dozen from Kim Smith and 10 from Talaya Barnett.
Besides Kuebel, Northeast also had Stephanie Lazor in double digits, with 12 points. Debbie Dadds pulled down 20 rebounds to gowith her six points. Lazor grabbed 14 off the boards.
Northeast now plays host to North County (6-3) tomorrow night, while Southern visits Great Mills in St. Mary's County.
The Eagles will take on a North County that was expected to be a 4A power this season but is smarting from three straight losses.
Friday night, North County was buried by 4A contender Old Mill, 64-43, as the Patriots (9-1) tuned upfor tomorrow night's crucial Region IV meeting at home against Severna Park (7-1).
The Severna Park Falcons rolled over Meade (1-7), 67-50, as Tami Riley and Barb Geary combined for 25 points.
In another girls hoops upset, St. Mary's fans delighted in a magnificent 57-46 victory over Catholic League kingpin Seton Keough. It marked the first time in seven tries that coach Carmine Blades' Saints defeated the Baltimore circuit champion.
Blades, who is also the school's athletic director, moved the game from a 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon start to prime time (7 p.m.) Friday night to put the girls in the spotlight, and they ate it up.
"Just another total team effort," said an ecstatic Blades on the 24-Hour Sportsline (647-2499) afterward. "We had a big run in the second quarter after trailing, 12-9, at the end of the first.
"We scored 19 points to their two points in the second quarter, and that was the difference in the game. They outscored us in the third, but it was only by 17-15, and in the fourth they had 15 and we had 14."
And just what sparked the surge?