Pointers upset No. 12 Millers, 78-71

February 12, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Not that Russ Lingner is superstitious, but the fourth-year Sparrows Point coach still believes that his football team's upset win over Milford Mill last fall and his wife's ensuing pregnancy was no coincidence.

So after his basketball team upset host and 12th-ranked Milford Mill yesterday, Lingner couldn't help but think the obvious.

Said Lingner: "Does this mean twins?"

Maybe not, but for a Pointers team that finished 3-18 last year, Lingner hopes that a 78-71 win over the defending Class 1A state champion Millers (15-2, 13-1) will spell the birth of a long-awaited winning program.

Sparrows Point (13-3 overall, 11-3 in the Baltimore County 2A-1A League), which hadn't beaten a ranked team in recent history, and often had been looked upon as a pushover, used a deliberate motion offense to dominate at times.

It set up screens to free its perimeter shooters all day, then hustled on defense to take away the Millers' running game.

And when the Pointers weren't hitting their jumpers, they were TC holding their own against a taller and usually dominating Milford frontcourt.

Though giving up two inches apiece, Sparrows Point's Adam Burleson and Will Marshall, both 6 feet 5, scored 16 points each and kept the Millers' inside game in check.

"We just kept telling ourselves, 'We can do this, we can do this,' " said Burleson. "I think this is the best we've ever played. We were really worried about the rebounding, but we did a good job.

"This is just the greatest thrill of my high school life."

As it was for other Sparrows Point players, as well.

For sophomore Carnell Damon, who scored a game-high 24 points with precision shooting from the outside and dazzling drives to the basket, it was a matter of forgetting the past.

He said as the game progressed, his confidence level ballooned.

"We felt more comfortable once we knew we could play with them," said Damon, whose team lost to the Millers by 14 earlier this season. "Coming in, we weren't sure what our chances were. Since they beat us last time, we knew we could play with them, but it just seemed like they had too much height."

But height didn't stop them. Though the Millers had a 38-31 edge in rebounding, the Pointers' pesky play stopped them from controlling the boards as they have all season.

For Milford Mill coach Homer Seidel, that was the difference.

"We didn't rebound the ball at all," said Seidel. "Russ has done a great job with them, and they've improved a great deal. But if we don't rebound, we don't win."

Milford's usually precise outside shooting was absent as well. With Sparrows Point picking up the guards beyond the three-point line, the Millers' Hassan Andrews, Carl Schattall and Ken Bostic shot a combined 14-for-50 from the field.

But even with their futility, the game proved a dogfight. After Milford held a slim lead early on, the Pointers fought back, taking their first lead since the opening seconds on Damon's jumper from 15 feet with 5:21 left.

Lingner said he knew his team had it with about three minutes to go.

"You just could see it in their faces," he said. "They looked confident, and you could sense they had it under control."

The win marked the second time this school year that a team from Sparrows Point has defeated Milford Mill in dramatic fashion. In November, the Pointers' football team beat Milford, 20-6, breaking their 30-game losing streak.

"We're not the little old team from Sparrows Point coming in to get beat anymore," Lingner said. "This has got to be one of the highest points of my life, though, I'm sure, the birth of my first baby will top this."

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