Critics may say the Severna Park boys basketball team's unblemished record is tainted, arguing that the Falcons haven't truely been tested.
Wayne Mook couldn't disagree more.
"We haven't gotten to our county schedule yet, but we played HighPoint of Prince George's County dead-even in a scrimmage and that team makes a regular appearance at Cole Field House (site of the state playoffs)," Mook said. "That game gave me a good clue as to how good we could be."
However, even the 11-year-coach had to concede that Friday night's non-league matchup with St. Mary's was no "brain teaser" for his senior-laden squad. The homestanding Falcons (4-0) startedslow but gained momentum en route to a 93-51 win over the Saints.
"We still have big-time room for improvement," Mook said prior to the start of Friday night's yawner. "We played sloppy in our first three games, but when we've needed to turn it on, we have."
Severna Park turned it on midway through the opening quarter Friday and capitalized on nine St. Mary's turnovers to take a 22-13 lead. That lead expanded to 14 points just 54 seconds into the second quarter when 6-foot-6 center Rich Riffle stole a pass at half court and took it in for the uncontested layup.
Riffle came into the contest as the Falcons' leading scorer with 17.3 points a game and almost had that many by the intermission before finishing with a team-high 19.
Mook went to his bench early and often, and when 32 minutes had expired, all 13 players on the Falcons' roster were in the scoring column.
"We're going to play a lot of man-to-man. We have seven seniors on this squad, so we can go pretty deep on our bench and not feel it," Mook said."The only thing I lose when I go to my bench is some height."
TheFalcons' height, which includes four starters 6-3 or taller, enabledSeverna Park to convert less than 50 percent of its shots from the floor (24-of-49) and still own a 53-33 halftime lead.
Senior guard Scott Brown (18 points) kindled a fire under Severna Park in the opening minutes of the second half, as he began the period with a pair ofthree-point bombs. The Falcons went on to score 21 unanswered pointsto take a 74-33 lead with 4 minutes, 23 seconds still left in the third.
After hitting nine of its first 10 shots from the floor, the free-lancing Falcons hit just two of their next 12 to give them a .500 shooting percentage for the quarter.
While Mook admits to being somewhat concerned with his team's inconsistency from the floor, he attributed the Falcons' third-quarter lapse to inexperience and being overly agressive.
"As you go further into the bench, all those guys want to do is shoot for their friends over in the bleachers, but you're always going to have that," he said.
St. Mary's (2-6) struggled from the floor throughout the game, converting just 17 of 41 fieldgoals.
Junior guard Charlie McCloud led the Saints with 17 points, followed by senior Rory Kiernan with 13.
Coming off the bench and providing the Falcons with scoring assistance were Tim Bowerman andDeamon Wilson with eight and six points, respectively.
So, the question still stands: Is this Severna Park squad a legitimate contender?
Mook seems to thinks so.
"Our league and the county this year has got to be as balanced as I've ever seen it," he said. "I reallybelieve this year, if you don't come in ready to play every night, you're in trouble. In past years you could get away with it, but this year I don't see it."