Patriots Overcome Doubts And Limitations

Meade Tourney Title More Proof That Team Is For Real

December 30, 1991|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff writer

It's a typical Old Mill boys basketball team: limited height, no true superstar, a bench that runs deeper than the national debt.

And in typical fashion, the Patriots are emerging as one of the better teams in the county this season.

The latest proof came Saturday night, when Old Mill won its firstMeade Invitational Tournament by defeating the host Mustangs, 64-62.

This was no small achievement, given that Meade had taken the last nine titles and 10 overall since 1978. Only Laurel, from 1979 to 1981, had loosened the Mustangs' grip.

But here were the Patriots Saturday night, weathering the heat of a partisan crowd and a Meade comeback to improve their record to 5-1.

"This win means a lot," senior guard Ravon Austin said. "This is our first time winning this tournament, and that's important to us."

"What's important to me is this has to give them confidence," said Patriots coach Paul Bunting. "Idon't want to take anything away from Meade's tournament, but if youwin this tournament and lose all the rest of your games, it doesn't mean anything.

"This is a big win. It gives them confidence that they can hang tough down the stretch. And we got contributions from a lot of guys."

One of those contributors was Austin, whose team-high 15 points included a free throw with three seconds remaining that accounted for the final margin. His earlier jump shot with four seconds remaining in the first half completed an 11-2 Old Mill run that reduced the Mustangs' lead to 36-33.

The Patriots then scored the first eight points of the third quarter to lead for good.

Austin opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that gave the Patriots their biggest advantage, 54-47, before Meade (3-2) rallied to within 63-62 on a Derek Barrett three-pointer with 1:30 left.

Barrett, a junior guard, opened the game by hitting his first five shots -- including a trio of three-pointers -- and had 14 points at halftime. He finished with 22 but wasn't nearly as accurate in the second half.

"I think that's fatigue," Bunting said. "That's Henry (Wilkerson) on him, Steve Smith on him, Erik (Sheppard) on him, rotating someone fresh on him the whole time, trying to deny him the full court and make himwork a little harder bringing the ball up."

Austin said, "Coach just told us to play good defense and keep a hand in his face, like wealways do."

Barrett found enough room to hit another three-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the game that left the Mustangs behind, 63-62. But their last four possessions brought a turnover, a missed free throw and two missed shots, including Barrett's heave from half courtthat bounced off the glass as time expired.

"We had our opportunities, but we just didn't take advantage of some of them. We didn't react real well," Meade coach Butch Young said.

The Mustangs were without leading scorer Robbie Somerville, who was involved in a trafficaccident earlier in the day. Young didn't learn of Somerville's whereabouts until just before the game.

Senior center Brian Parker took up much of the scoring load with 19 points, and he pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds. Butch Somerville added 10 points.

Old Mill's Austin Johnson scored 14 points, and Wilkerson had 12.

* In the consolation game, Vernon Osborne scored 17 points to lead Glen Burnie past Edgewood, 63-48.

Jeff Gross added 17 points for the Gophers (4-2), who lost to Old Mill, 76-56, in Friday night's opening round.

Edgewood (3-3) lost to Meade, 73-48, in the other semifinal.

* Austin was chosen Most Valuable Player after scoring 40 points in two games. Joining him on the All-Tournament team were Barrett, Parker, Osborne and Edgewood's Greg Ingram.

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