He's Westminster's spark Brightful surprises foes with quickness

January 17, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

The big-time high school basketball schools don't really expect to run into a Matt Brightful when they venture into Carroll County for a game.

Brightful, Westminster's point guard, has a fast first step to the basket that will burn anybody if they're loafing a bit.

Highly regarded Montgomery Blair discovered that Jan. 6 when the Blazers came to town for what they thought would be an easy road victory.

Brightful, only 5 feet 8, caused problems all night long for Blair with his quickness on offense and his quick hands on defense.

Brightful and the Owls forced Blair into overtime before it escaped with a 48-45 win. Brightful gave the Blazers a major scare with four seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 44.

He came up with a beautiful steal as Blair was working the ball around the perimeter for what it hoped would be the winning shot, and took off down the court.

As the Owls senior crossed half-court with two seconds on the clock, he fired a long shot at the basket that was off the mark.

"I could have at least gotten to the three-point line before I shot," said Brightful. "But it was a pressure game and I was all pumped up. We always seem to play well against strong teams like Blair. But if we play teams that are not that good, we play at their pace."

This inconsistency and an inability to win on the road have hampered the Owls.

Westminster coach Dave Byers says his team will overcome some of those problems if Brightful's offensive game catches up his defense.

"He's stepped right in defensively and done everything you could ask," said Byers. "Everything we do defensively is based on Matt's ability to put pressure on the other team's point guard. Offensively, he's still learning from the standpoint of when to give the ball up and when to bring it back out and reset the offense."

Byers said he knew it would take time for Brightful to "get his feet wet at point guard. His defensive development was much faster than I expected."

Being an instant hit on defense is no surprise for the Owls' standout. He said he has loved to play defense since his first days in recreation basketball.

"I learned to play defense on the playgrounds and by playing against my two cousins [Calvin Warfield and Herman Costley, former Westminster stars]," said Brightful. "Calvin is a step quicker than I am and he forced me to be quicker."

For the Owls this season, Brightful is averaging four steals, six rebounds and eight points.

About ending the problems on the road, Brightful said it will take one big win.

"We just have to go out and ignore the heat on somebody else's court and get a win at a place like Thomas Johnson," he said.

Byers would love that.

"I've been joking with the players and our athletic director [Steve Thomson] that we should cancel our games at Thomas Johnson and Montgomery Blair," said Byers. "I don't know if we should take these guys out of Carroll County. I don't want to cause them some kind of trauma."

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