With patience paying off, Arundel eyes playoffs Moore's 6-3 Wildcats aiming at 1st winning mark since '79

January 11, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Only a small portion of the streak belongs to Gerald Moore, but he carries the entire, heavy burden.

In his fourth season as boys basketball coach at Arundel, Moore is trying to lead the Wildcats to their first winning record since 1979.

"It's hard to get out of the cellar," he said, "but you've just got to be patient in there."

Moore's patience seems to be paying off, and he's basking in the glow of his team's hot start. The Wildcats are 6-3 going into tomorrow night's home game against No. 4 Annapolis -- a showdown that could extend their winning streak in non-tournament games to six.

"It's another step, another obstacle, something else we have to prove to ourselves," said Moore, who is 27-46 in his first stint as a head coach. "We have to ask ourselves, 'Can we play with the big boys?'

"Our goal is not to just beat Annapolis. Our goal is to do well in every game and let the chips fall where they may."

After the opening week of the season, it appeared that Arundel would fall out of sight. The Wildcats were 0-2 after losses to Poly, 65-55, and Southern, 72-59. A 73-51 victory over Hammond got them heading upward.

And they're still going.

"I knew we played two very good teams at the beginning," said Moore, whose Wildcats later split two games in the Northern holiday tournament, defeating Pallotti, 58-44, and losing to the hosts, 68-60. Neither game counts toward playoff points.

"Poly was very quick, and we've always had problems with very quick teams. And of course, [Southern] coach Tom Albright, the legend. But I figured we learned from those. We made some adjustments, and here we are."

Arundel's closest victory was a 65-56 decision over Northeast. The Wildcats also have beaten North County by 21 points, Severna Park by 28 and Chesapeake by 12.

"They're much improved over last year, that's for sure," said Falcons coach Wayne Mook, who watched as Arundel center Richard Abrams scored 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in an 88-60 win.

"I saw them against North County, and then against us, and what a whale of a difference. They didn't look that good against North County, but Abrams being able to contain the middle the way he did really hurt us."

Moore said: "We're not an up-tempo team, and we're not a slow team. If we're shooting well and rebounding and playing good defense, we can play with a lot of people. Not everybody, but a lot of people."

So far, the Wildcats' biggest contributor has been one of their biggest players, beefy 6-foot-5 senior Abrams, who is averaging nearly 16 points and 18 rebounds. Junior point guard Jeff Hedrick is providing invaluable leadership and some of the finest defense in the county. He also can score, as evidenced by his game-high 20 points in Friday's 64-52 win over Chesapeake.

Junior forward Sean Soyers and sophomore guard Kevin Higgens (14.6 ppg) also are starting, and the small-forward position has fallen to Willie Leeks, Kevin Brown and Paul Madden.

"It all depends on what we need," Moore said.

The bench includes Mike Fairbanks and 6-7 center Kris Niemi -- the latter up from a junior varsity team that went 17-3 last year. Fairbanks scored 19 points in the victory over Severna Park.

"Everybody has a role to play," Moore said.

And this system has the Wildcats on a roll.

"We always set high goals for ourselves," Moore said. "Each year that I've been here, we've done better. My first year, we won five games. The next year, we won seven. Last year, we won nine. This year, if we win 13, that should put us in the playoffs. And anything can happen after that.

"That was our low goal. You know the high goal -- going all the way."

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