After losing three straight heartbreaking games to Meade, Glen Burnie and Old Mill within the past two weeks, Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek wanted his team to show in last night's Bay Division showdown against Arundel just what it was made of.
The Bruins had led going into the fourth quarter of all three games, only to fall short during crunch time.
But last night, instead of wilting offensively, the Bruins turned up the defensive pressure on upstart Arundel -- limiting it to two points in the last 5:48 of the game on their way to a 76-59 triumph.
Broadneck (9-6, 6-0 league) helped itself by shooting 62.5 percent from the field (25-for-40) and 78.5 percent from the foul line (22-for-28). It also limited Arundel's 6-foot-4, 260-pound center, Richard Abrams, (16.3 rebounds and 16 points per game before last night) to eight points and seven rebounds. Abrams got into early foul trouble, picking up two in the middle of the first period, earning him a seat next to coach Gerald Moore for the rest of the half.
"We could have done the same thing that we did in the other three games, but, tonight, I think the kids really grew up," Kazmarek said. "Our goal was to concentrate on defense, and by doing that, we scored off turnovers and fast breaks."
After two free throws by Sean Soyars (23 points, 13 rebounds) tied the score at 57, junior forward Sean Ryan (eight points, team-high eight rebounds) hit a three-pointer to put Broadneck up for good. Sophomore guard Jason Smith (23 points, six rebounds) helped slam the door shut on an Arundel comeback at the 2:38 mark with a three-pointer, then hit a medium-range jumper seven seconds later to give his team a 67-57 advantage. Jeff Hedrick's pushing foul underneath the basket helped set up Smith's backbreaking baskets.
"You have to credit coach Kazmarek for the way they played tonight. His team came in very prepared to play, and we didn't. We were out of sync and we weren't focused," said Moore, whose team dropped to 10-6 overall, 4-2 in Bay Division play.
The Wildcats outscored the Bruins 24-11 during the third period, 17-5 during the first 6:05 of it. Abrams' tip-in at the buzzer tied the game at 53, and Soyars' jumper 14 seconds into the final period gave Arundel its last lead, at 55-53.
The hosts took their largest lead of the first half with a minute left in the second quarter at 42-27 on a layup by Ryan. Ryan's basket was set up on a beautiful assist from sophomore Jaylonnie Booth, who used a crossover dribble to elude his defender before dumping the ball off. Kevin Higgins (10 points, four rebounds) converted a fast-break layup to bring the lead back to 13 going into halftime.