Poets breeze to final, top N.Y.'s best, 86-63 Bishop Loughlin falls to Booth's 28

December 19, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- You didn't have to search hard to find out which of the three well-dressed men was the head coach of Bishop Loughlin.

Lions mentor Bob Leckie was the one wearing the concerned expression before last night's Gonzaga Classic semifinal against defending national champion Dunbar at American University's Bender Arena.

Far in advance of losing, 86-63, to the top-ranked Poets, Leckie knew he was in for a long night.

He got a good, long look at 6-foot-7 All-America forward Keith Booth (28 points, seven rebounds, seven assists), who led the Poets (5-0) to their 57th straight victory and into the final to play Roman Catholic (Pa.), which defeated Flint Hill (Va.), 44-30, in last night's other semifinal.

Leckie watched as Booth alternated from post to point, pacing the Poets to a 38-31 halftime lead. The Lions (3-1), New York's top-ranked team, had tried to establish an outside game, with senior guards Seldon Jefferson (6-3) and Sherwin Anderson (6-0) each hitting a three-pointer in the first period.

However, Jefferson (31 points) and Anderson (nine) were stopped in the third quarter.

That was when things really got bad, as the Poets handled Bishop Loughlin, a Brooklyn, N.Y., team ranked No. 16 by USA Today that returned four starters from last year's Class A state champion and was coming off of Thursday's 73-47 victory over Bishop O'Connell (D.C.).

Booth gradually did in Leckie's Lions, who shot 2-for-16 in the third period, being outscored 17-4 to trail 55-35 entering the final quarter.

"We had gotten a little lackadaisical, making lazy passes and trying to go too much one-on-one," said Booth, who was held to 16 points in the Poets' 78-70 win over Anacostia, Washington's top-ranked team, on Thursday.

"They had a little guy, Sherwin Anderson," he added. "It seemed like it was a mismatch. I had 4 or 5 inches on him."

In the third, Booth single-handedly widened the gap for the Poets for leads of 43-33, 45-35, 47-35, on his fourth slam-dunk of the night, a 12-footer from the right and a pair of free throws. He also assisted 6-foot-8 Alexander Mobley (10 points, 15 rebounds, four blocked shots), for a 49-35 cushion.

"I think Keith did a damn good job of stepping up and taking control in that third quarter," said Leckie. "He's got a nice supporting cast as well, but I think he makes them better."

That cast includes Mobley, 6-8 center Norman Nolan (19 points, 15 rebounds) and guards Yashida King (16 points, six rebounds) and Michael Cooper (four points, five assists).

The Poets, ranked No. 5 in USA Today's Super 25, haven't lost since a 66-65 setback against St. Anthony's (N.J.) on Dec. 14, 1990, in the opening game of the Skyline Classic.

"I think all five of the guys we had on the floor did a good job defensively," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey, "I think the difference was that we were going to rebound and get the ball up the floor. They didn't really get a chance to attack the basket too much in that [third] quarter."

King teamed with Booth to do the primary defensive damage to Jefferson and Anderson.

"Basically, our defense was supposed to stop No. 25 [Jefferson] because he's an excellent three-point shooter," said King, the Poets' high scorer with 26 points against Anacostia.

"We wanted to stop their penetration. The final score made it look easy, but it wasn't an easy game."

Dunbar shot 10-for-14 from the field in the first quarter (17-for-27 in the first half), taking a 22-15 lead. The Lions closed within 26-25, but Dunbar scored 12 of the next 18 points to go into halftime leading 38-31.

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