Meade Village coach Terry Evans knew his team had just as much talent as the Flying Admirals.
However, he also knew that his squad wasmissing an important ingredient that could have reversed the 66-57 loss in Wednesday's county Recreation and Parks Boys Summer League Basketball tournament finals at Pasadena's Lake Waterford Park.
"Most of my guys just don't have the varsity (high school) experience that a lot of the teams around here have," said Evans.
"I have some good playground players and about four or five guys who have some JV or varsity experience. But we just didn't have the amount of experience that they (the Admirals) had."
One of the experienced Meade Village players, Meade High junior varsity guard Tyrone "Stick" Jones simply ran through the Flying Admirals' defense.
The slender junior would finish the game with a team-leading 22 points, knocking down long-range jumpers while venturing among the trees for acrobaticlayups, wreaking havoc on the Admirals' man-to-man setup.
But with a little more than 10 minutes remaining, Admirals coach Joe Moran employed a 3-2 zone defense, slowing Jones down while forcing his teammates to shoot out of their range, as the Admirals eventually put thegame out of reach.
"If we had kept playing them man-to-man, I don't know what would have happened," said Moran.
"When we switched to the zone, it kept them from penetrating inside the way they were inthe first half. And that No. 4 (Jones), he was all over the place. We just couldn't stop him. He's going to be a good ballplayer."
While Jones dazzled the crowd with his quicksilver brand of play, Admiral and Severna Park High forward Rich Riffle went about his job in workmanlike fashion, dumping in a game-high 24 points on a variety of rebound baskets and short jumpers.
"We really came through in the clutch tonight," said Moran.
"Like I was saying last week before thetournament started, I knew we had it in us. But this definitely wasn't an easy tournament for us.
"Glen Burnie (4-5) was really tough (57-56 quarterfinal win on Monday), and the Bulldogs (South County) gave us a little trouble in the first round (a 61-51 win). Meade Village -- what can I say -- they were a real good ballclub, and they gaveus all we could handle."
The top-seeded Admirals (8-1 during the regular season) disposed of the Patriots (Old Mill area) in surprisingly easy fashion, 66-47, in Tuesday night's semifinal.
On Monday, second-seeded Meade Village (6-2 in regular-season play) nipped the Bruins (Broadneck area), 72-54, then went on to down the Red Division champion Cougars (Pasadena/Lake Shore), 72-66, in the other semifinal.
Both championship participants drew first-round byes.
"I don't have any complaints about the season," said Evans. "Overall, I think we had a really good year, and we were just fortunate to have a chance to go this far."
The beginning of Wednesday night's game saw the lead change hands on several occasions. After Meade Village held anarrow 12-10 advantage, the Admirals caught fire -- taking a 25-18 lead with five minutes left in the half on a steal and dunk by Scott Brown (13 points).
Jones then began to take command, knifing his way inside for a three-point play and hitting a 20-foot jumper for another three points to bring his team to within 28-25. Two minutes later, Jones blocked a driving attempt by Jake Mack (Severn, 11 points) and converted a coast-to-coast layup to tie the game at 30.
A foul shot and a follow-up at the buzzer by center Vincent Patrick (eight points) gave Meade Village a 35-32 lead at the intermission.
The Village held its last lead two minutes into the second stanza on anotherfollow-up by Patrick. On the next trip downcourt, Brad Fowler (Severn, four points) hit on a leaning jumper to give the Admirals a 39-37 lead, which they did not relinquish.
"Like I said before, I think it was a case of us not having enough experience, especially at the end of the game. The guys who haven't played any high school ball had never been in some of the situations they faced tonight, and we didn't come up with the big plays when we needed them," said Evans.
TheAdmirals clinched the game during the last six minutes, as they outscored their opponents, 10-4. Butch Sommerville (Meade), the only varsity player on the Meade Village roster, was the only other player to reach double figures, pouring in 16 points.