Key improves to 4-1, tops N. Carroll, 56-51

December 30, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Francis Scott Key coach Jeff Cook couldn't contain his excitement last night after the Eagles held off a rallying North Carroll team for a 56-51 victory in the opening round of the North Carroll Holiday boys basketball tournament.

His team is off to one of the best starts in school history with a 4-1 record, and there is still room for a lot of improvement.

"It feels great," said Cook. "We did this without one of our better players [junior Steve Wright] who is out for disciplinary reasons. Steve is averaging 14 points. And we're bound to get better when we play more games."

Francis Scott Key will meet Centennial tonight at 8 in the championship game. Centennial advanced to the final yesterday when Fallston could not make it to North Carroll because of the bad weather conditions in Harford County.

Cook also was pleased with Key's free-throw shooting (18-for-26), which included five clutch foul shots in the final 58 seconds by Kyle Stephenson.

"We made the free throws at the end but I was a little unhappy the way we let them back in it," said Cook.

The Eagles were leading 53-44 with 46 seconds left but had to sweat out the final seconds after North Carroll's Jeff Baldwin made a driving layup with 21 seconds on the clock, reducing the lead to 53-51.

Stephenson answered the Baldwin layup by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left for a 55-51 advantage.

Any hopes the Panthers had of pulling off a miracle in the final seconds ended when Scott McLain turned the ball over with 13 seconds remaining.

"That didn't cost us the game," said North Carroll coach Troy Warehime. "We just dug ourselves too deep a hole and expended all our energy trying to catch up. Anyway, Scott was playing out of position because of foul problems."

Stephenson wound up with 14 points for the winners and Topher Casserly had 15 for Key.

North Carroll (2-5) was led by sophomore Bruce Wright's 23 points. Wright joined the team two days before the season started, transferring from St. Paul's, and has been a major addition to the Panthers.

"We could be 5-2 with a couple of breaks," said Warehime. "But they always say you make your own breaks. We looked like it was our first practice in the first half when we scored only 15 points. Maybe it was because we hadn't played a game in nine days."

Chris Wunder added 12 points for North Carroll, which will meet Fallston at 4 p.m. today in the consolation round.

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