Cecil-Kirk comes up big in AAU play Baltimore team brings home title

July 22, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

When Baltimore's Cecil-Kirk entered the court against Charlotte for their second game at the Amateur Athletic Union national basketball tournament for boys 17 and under, the players were almost laughed off the court because of their overall small size.

But four games later, this team, which consists of two starters well below 6 feet and only one taller than 6-2, chuckled home with the AAU national title.

It is believed that Cecil-Kirk is the first Batlimore squad to win an AAU national title.

"They were laughing at us," said Shawnta Rogers, a 5-5 shooting guard, who was first-team All-Metro as a sophomore for Lake Clifton last year. "But they weren't laughing at us at the end of the game."

Offsetting their size, Cecil-Kirk used a full-court press to go 6-0 during the week's stay in Cocoa Beach, Fla., to claim the top prize. With three players from Lake Clifton in the starting lineup, Cecil-Kirk rolled over teams from Wisconsin, Charlotte, host Jacksonville and Arkansas to advance into the semifinals.

Cecil-Kirk defeated Jacksonville a second time in the semifinals with a 81-56 win, and earned a spot to face Springfield, Mo., in the finals. Behind Rogers' 40 points, which is four shy of his personal best, and backcourt teammate Anthony Terrell's eight steals, Cecil-Kirk beat Springfield, 76-62, in the championship game.

Terrell, a 5-6 guard, was a member of the 19-under AAU national runner-up team, which was run by 17-under head coach Anthony Lewis.

"Last year, that team was hurt by injuries," Terrell said. "Coach [Lewis] told us that we were in the hunt this year. I guess now he wasn't telling us any lies."

"I saw kids coming together, focusing on a common goal," Lewis said. "We had to play as a team, and some kids had to make some sacrifices."

Most of these sacrifices were made by Ronald Byrd and Kenneth Bostic, both of whom are around 6-2 and are guards by trade but had to make the switch to the frontcourt. In Florida, Byrd and Bostic had to match up against players that had at least a six-inch height advantage.

"At first, I had mixed thoughts. Then I realized it was best for the team," Bostic said. "I had to play defense and rebound instead of scoring all the time."

Bostic will return to the backcourt for his senior season at Milford Mill, and Byrd, a junior, possibly will start alongside Rogers in Lake Clifton's backcourt. The Lakers are looking to replace graduating first-team All-Metro guard Kevin Norris, who is Rogers' cousin.

Terrence Payne, a 6-7 center, anchored the middle for Cecil-Kirk's quick press. Payne, who will enter his final year at Lake Clifton, was the top rebounder for Cecil-Kirk.

"In these types of tournaments, you have to have a certain amount of talent and luck," Lewis said.

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