Loyola wins first regular-season title since '77

Metro roundup

February 22, 1993|By Bob Clark | Bob Clark,Contributing Writer

At his Saturday practice, Loyola coach Jerry Savage had reminded his team that in a championship game defense often decides the outcome.

Yesterday at Towson Catholic, Savage's Dons, with seniors Warren Parker and Jerry Hunt leading the way, responded with tough defense at the right time, lifting Loyola to a 69-66 victory over the host Owls and Loyola's first regular-season Catholic League championship since 1977.

The victory gives Loyola a 21-8 overall record and a 10-4 Catholic League mark. The Owls drop to 17-11 and 9-5. The victory gives the Dons the top seed in the Catholic League tournament, which begins Friday, and also assures Loyola of the top seed in the Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong Conference A League playoff with a 13-3 mark.

After leading since midway through the first quarter, Loyola fell behind 59-57 midway through the fourth quarter after a pair of free throws by Towson's Sharif Butler capped a 13-2 run.

Then Parker started a two-minute spurt of defensive intensity that produced an 8-0 run, a 65-59 lead and enough cushion to hold off the Owls in the final minute.

"That spurt won the game," said Savage. "The defense did it for us."

Parker, who led Loyola with 21 points, made a steal to start the run. Then Hunt, who scored 19 and played superb defense against Butler, made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 59 with just over three minutes left.

After Butler missed the front end of a one-and-one, sophomore Reggie Boyce, fed Wes Unseld Jr. (11 points) for a layup and a 61-59 lead with 2:40 remaining.

The Dons capped the spurt with back-to-back steals by Parker and Hunt that each resulted in layups and a 65-59 lead with 1:10 to play.

"Coach told us if we were going to win,it would come down to defense," said Parker. "And it came down to defense. It feels great to win it for him."

"We're on top of the world right now," said Hunt, who had seen Butler score 26 in the first meeting between the two this season but limited him to 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting this time. "I tried to play good solid defense against him. And Warren and Wes gave me help when I needed it. Our whole team's help defense was great."

Towson Catholic got a big offensive game from senior forward James Burrell, who finished with a game-high 25 points, including three three-pointers. Richard Rhinehart added 14.

Owls coach Mike Daniel had praise for Loyola. "Loyola out-scrapped us today, and we usually don't get out-scrapped. The better team today won."

The teams traded the lead five times in the first four minutes, with Loyola going ahead 10-9 on a pair of free throws from Unseld to gain a lead it held until the fourth quarter.

Hunt scored eight first-quarter points and held Butler to one free throw as the Dons led 18-14 after one quarter.

A three-pointer by Parker to open the second quarter gave Loyola its biggest lead of the first half, 21-14.

But Burrell hit a pair of three-pointers, the second closing the gap to 29-28 with 3:26 left in the half.

Loyola then got a big lift off the bench from Boyce, who crammed eight points into a two-minute spurt. A three-pointer built a 37-32 Dons lead in the final minute of the half. But Rhinehart's three-pointer at the buzzer pulled the Owls to within 37-35 at intermission.

After being tied twice early in the second half, the Dons built their largest lead of the game, 53-44, with a pair of three-pointers by Kevin Chinnia and a three-point play from Hunt.

* Gibbons 82, Curley 46: Junior forward Jerard Rucker scored a game-high 20 points and junior center Richard Dent added 15 to lead Cardinal Gibbons (18-13, 7-7) past Archbishop Curley (3-20, 0-14) in a Catholic League game. Brian Schilpp led Curley with 14.

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