When two basketball teams with a combined 1-6 record take the floor, the coaches are conditioned to hope for the best but expect the worst.
That was the case in yesterday's first round matchup between Gilman and St. Mary's, which the Greyhounds won, 74-60, to advance to the semifinals of the 19th annual Laker Invitational at Boys' Latin.
"When you're 1-4, you kind of just stand around waiting for the bottom to fall out," Gilman coach Tim Holley conceded, after watching his Greyhounds end a four-game losing streak. "I've just been trying to get my guys to play the full 32 minutes. If you go to sleep against any of the teams in this tournament, you're finished.
"I don't think we played a full 32 minutes today, but we played hard and long enough to win."
Gilman (2-4) will meet Severn, which hit the three-point shots when it had to in defeating Sidwell Friends of Washington, 70-68, in double-overtime, in today's 6 p.m. semifinal.
Meeting in the second semifinal game, scheduled to start at 7:45, are Friends and St. Paul's, which beat Boys' Latin, 46-42.
Stealing the show for the Greyhounds was Jimmy Fields, who made nine steals, including four on inbounds passes, which resulted in easy layups for the 5-foot-8 junior guard. Fields finished with a game-high 38 points, including two three-pointers and an 8-for-9 performance at the foul line.
"Jimmy is a player, and he showed that today," said Holley, whose team hadn't won since its opener with Archbishop Curley. "He can light it up."
After trading baskets throughout the first quarter, the Greyhounds survived a four-minute scoring lapse in the second period and led the struggling Saints 35-31 at the half.
Gilman's full-court pressure got the best of St. Mary's in the early minutes of the second quarter, but the Saints managed to stay within striking range behind the hot hand of senior Charlie McCloud. McCloud, who scored 11 of St. Mary's 14 first-quarter points, scored the first six for the Saints in the second half to narrow the margin to 43-37.
A pair of jumpers by sophomore Brad Davis and a three-pointer by McCloud at the buzzer pulled St. Mary's to within 53-50 for the start of the fourth quarter.
Fields' eighth steal and final three-pointer pushed the Greyhounds lead to seven, and a pair of uncontested layups by Than'l Badder (14 points) and Ted Russell forced St. Mary's first-year coach Hank Gareis to call a timeout with his team trailing by double digits with 5:17 remaining.
St. Mary's (0-3), which takes on Sidewell Friends in the 3 p.m. consolation game, hoped to make up some ground by putting its opponent on the foul line, but that plan backfired when Fields hit all six of his free throws down the stretch.
After finishing tied with Sidwell Friends at 53 in regulation, Jim Doyle's Severn ballclub nearly saw its tournament title hopes disappear, but James Carpenter's three-point shot with no time left sent the game into a second overtime period, where the Admirals capitalized.
Trailing again with little time left, Severn's Jamand Mack tied the score at 68 by making one of two free throws. Severn managed to gain possession of Mack's second foul shot with 10.8 seconds showing on the clock.
Brad Fowler, who shared high-scoring honors with Mack at 22, fielded the inbounds pass and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left. Fowler hit both ends of the one-and-one to ice it.
St. Paul's and host Boys' Latin closed the first-round action in front of a standing-room-only crowd last night in the Margaret U. Inglehart Gymnasium.
The Lakers led by 15 at the half, but the Crusaders rallied for a 46-42 victory.
Senior Michael Watson paved the way for St. Paul's with 21 points, including 11 in the second quarter alone.
"Any time we play Boys' Latin in anything, it's a competitive," said St. Paul's coach Rick Collins. "My guys just didn't quit tonight. The determination was there and we scrapped and hung in there."
Friends' 60-54 victory over St. Andrew's was not as climactic. The Quakers built a 26-17 halftime lead and never looked back.
Junior guard Sean Armstrong led the Quakers against the Cardinals of Middletown, Del., with a game-high 17 points. Sophomore Hiram Holton added 13 points for Quakers, and 6-4 senior John Miles added 12.