With nine fingers, Glen Burnie assistant basketball coach Mike Rudd could count the number of players on the Gophers' roster before Friday night's game at Severna Park.
On four, he could list the number of close games lost. And on three, the number of lost players -- one starter to his family's relocation to another state, a reserve to a foot injury and still another who quit the team.
But thanks to the 73-72 victory over an improved Falcons' squad -- and last week's 71-52 victory over Southern -- the 7-4 Gophers havea two-game winning streak.
And at least for a few more days, Ruddcan keep a fifth finger down.
"We know we have a good team. We'vejust had some bad breaks," said Rudd before the game.
"We got spanked pretty good in our first game against Old Mill, but we played better in the second. We only lost by five after being down by 21 at the half. Then we avenged a loss to Northeast, but there was that overtime loss (72-70) to South River."
And the Gophers barely avoided another overtime session Friday.
Glen Burnie coach Terry Bogle watched his squad's biggest lead -- 63-50 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds leftin the contest -- melt into a shaky 73-72 advantage when the Falcons' Craig Dorsey (six points) slipped inside with just eight seconds showing.
Glen Burnie, which was able to run out the clock, entered the fourth quarter with a seemingly stable 57-46 lead.
It survived the final stanza on clutch free-throw shooting from Chris Collins (4-for-4) and Ted Wolf (6-for-6).
"Put me at the line, when the pressure's on," said Wolf, who ended the night with 15 points, including athree-pointer in the first period.
"I like it when the game's in my hands."
Collins had good hands as well, ending the night with six each in points and assists and five steals.
The 9-2 Falcons, ranked 18th in the metro area, were coming off last week's 76-67 victory over Arundel, in which they were led by 6-foot-6 Rich Riffle and 6-5 Scott Brown with 24 and 17 points, respectively.
Both of them had big games again Friday. Riffle tallied 20, and Brown had 21. Ron Green contributed 16, and Gerald Cager had eight.
In building a 21-15 first-quarter lead, Severna Park got nine points from Brown and sixfrom Riffle.
The Gophers trailed, 27-20, midway through the second, but Vernon Osborne, who scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, and Mike Mahaney (nine points) sparked an 8-0 run that gave Glen Burnie a 28-27 lead when Mahaney sank both free throws with3:31 remaining in the half.
The Gophers led, 37-33, at the half and never trailed again.
"We came in here with a reputation for beating mediocre teams, so this is the one we needed," said Osborne.
Severna Park was down, 57-44, with 50 seconds left in the third period after Glen Burnie's 9-0 run, made up of Mahaney's three-pointer andbaskets from Wolf, Collins and James Gloede.
Brown's basket accounted for the margin heading into the fourth quarter.
"The first quarter was a bad sign, because they were making shots, even though we were too. Then we started missing, and they kept making theirs," saidSeverna Park coach Wayne Mook.
"This week, we got away from what got us here. We played poor defense and didn't get back into the gameuntil the last three minutes, which is too late."