Glenelg, Hammond at crossroads Showdown to help sort out logjam for first place

February 10, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Because Centennial, Oakland Mills, Glenelg and Hammond are tied for first place with six league games remaining, one game can't be called crucial just yet.

But tonight's Glenelg-Hammond boys basketball matchup comes close.

The team that wins tonight might look back on this game as the season's turning point.

Glenelg and Hammond, unlike the other two first-place teams, play the majority of their remaining games at home -- a significant advantage in such a competitive season.

Tonight's victor might develop enough momentum to put together a meaningful winning streak -- something none of the contenders has done since league play started.

Glenelg's 75-59 victory over Hammond on Jan. 13 was a confidence builder. The Bears had beaten Glenelg five straight times and nine of the past 10. And the Gladiators were coming off a 69-65 season-opening loss to Howard in which they shot only 28 percent from the field and hit 5-for-34 from three-point range.

Since then, Glenelg has limited its three-point attempts to about 10 per game.

Now the Gladiators (12-4, 5-3) again are coming off a tough loss to Howard, 57-54, in which they shot 30 percent from the field. They missed four free throws and an open three-point shot down the stretch. And they allowed Howard to get 18 offensive rebounds. If the Gladiators have a weakness, it is rebounding.

"We beat ourselves," Glenelg coach Terry Coleman said. "We shot 2-for-12 in the first quarter, 2-for-13 in the fourth quarter and 2-for-9 from three-point range, and we were taking good shots.

"We executed well defensively, forcing Howard to take bad shots. But 85 percent of their points seemed to come off rebounds. Rebounding is the great eraser that we don't have. And Howard is the best rebounding team in the league."

Glenelg's leading scorers -- Scott Cline and Jason Beall -- both scored 17 points against Howard, but Cline was 5-for-16 from the field and Beall 5-for-19.

Hammond must pressure both those shooters tonight and hope for similar numbers if it hopes to win.

Glenelg hasn't lost two straight games this season but is on the road again tonight. It is the sixth game in the past seven that the Gladiators have played on the road. But they are 4-2 during that stretch.

Hammond is coming off a 63-42 rout of Atholton and needs a win over one of the first-place teams to establish its confidence for the stretch run. The Bears have lost big to Oakland Mills and to Glenelg, and nipped Centennial by a point.

The Bears are in the midst of a stretch in which they play six of seven league games at home. They are 2-0 in that stretch and 3-0 in league home games overall.

Against Glenelg earlier this season, the Bears committed too many fouls and allowed the league's leading scorer, Beall, to get 20 points in the first half.

Free-throw shooting was the biggest difference. Glenelg shot 32-for-44 from the foul line against Hammond, including 18-for-22 in the fourth quarter.

The Gladiators made only five second-half baskets, and their 17-point halftime lead was trimmed to six early in the fourth quarter. But when Hammond point guard Kelvin Stevens fouled out, Hammond fell apart and Glenelg went on to win by 16 points.

On paper, it looks as if Glenelg may win again, even though Hammond has improved a lot since they first met.

Although Hammond is a much better rebounding team than Glenelg, it is not as strong as Howard. The Bears will win the boards, but probably not by enough to turn the game around.

Glenelg, with its man-to-man, is one of the league's best defensive teams. Hammond's defense is up-and-down. When the Bears fall behind and are forced into man-to-man, they make too many fouls. They must stay close, so they can remain in some form of zone and slow Glenelg's up-tempo style.

Hammond's defensive strength is its half-court trap, perhaps the best in the league. But the Gladiators may be the best passing team in the league, so the trap isn't likely to create big problems unless Glenelg gets into foul trouble.

Offensively, Glenelg has the advantage, with Beall averaging 21.3 points and Cline 17.0. Senior Kris Jefferson, who comes off the bench, leads Hammond at 13.7, and sophomore Mike Matthews averages 11.6. Junior 6-foot-5 center James Fehrman has scored in double figures the past five games for Hammond.

The point guards -- Glenelg's Jamie Brinker and Hammond's Stevens -- are two of the best in the league, so turnovers shouldn't be decisive.

Hammond does have a deeper bench and can hope that Glenelg will wear down in the second half. The Bears have been a strong second-half team all season.

But the real key for Hammond is to stay close in the first half.

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