Southern's Albright gets victory No. 400 in his low-key style Bulldogs beat Great Mills, 46-43

December 05, 1992|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

To Tom Albright it was just another game, just his 28t season opener.

The low-key coach, who has dedicated his life to Southern (Anne Arundel) High School as a teacher and coach, didn't really want any attention for what was a historic victory.

There was no celebration, not even a game ball presentation or announcement on the public address system.

Albright's Bulldogs presented him with career victory No. 400 last night in Harwood, 46-43, over Great Mills of St. Mary's County. But the significance of No. 400 wasn't nearly as important to him as was seeing many of the old gang who stopped by to shake his hand.

"It was great to see so many of my former players and their dads, uncles and cousins here tonight, because I usually don't see them until our alumni game," said Albright, 56, his eyes watering from the emotion of the moment.

"You've got to love them. I didn't realize I was so close to 400 until this summer. It hit me when I started working on a brochure, and that made me start thinking of all the wonderful kids I've had here."

Albright (400-221) becomes the first coach in any sport in Anne Arundel County history to win 400 games, but this one wasn't easy.

Returning All-County junior Chatney Howard suffered through a cold-shooting first half, but scored 11 of his game high 17 in the second half as the Bulldogs overcame a 41-36 deficit to start the final period.

Howard was 5-for-7 from the field in the second half and got help from Jamal Mullen, who scored 11 and sparked a hustling defense that limited Great Mills to two points in the final period.

"I think the way Chatney and the other kids shot can be attributed to first-game jitters," said longtime assistant coach Ted Gott, one of three brothers who served as a student manager to Albright.

Albright had never coached basketball when then principal Mark Wingate talked him into taking over a downtrodden program in 1965. After two losing seasons that extended the Bulldogs' winless season streak to 10, Albright enjoyed his first winner, a 12-7 team.

That '68 season was the first time that Albright employed his vaunted full-court press and philosophy of running from buzzer to buzzer. What followed were state championships in 1973, 1981, 1983 and 1986, the most by any boys basketball coach in county history.

Year in and year out, Albright would fine-tune his Bulldogs for February and the stretch run. Most of his teams have peaked at precisely the right time, postseason time. Ten of his teams have made it to the state final four at Cole Field House.

"And he's still got it," said former player and now assistant coach Chris Chaney, a 1989 Southern grad.

Chaney was just one of scores of former players running through Albright's head last night.

"I love them all, and when I can't do the job anymore, they will be the first to tell me," he said.

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