Southern gets back at Sabers

February 17, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

For more than two weeks, Southern High has been seething about the loss that might have denied the school a mythical national basketball championship.

So when the chance for revenge arrived yesterday, the Bulldogs and their fans were at a fever pitch.

And Southern delivered to its boisterous backers an 83-74 victory over visiting Southwestern that cemented the Bulldogs' grip on the No. 1 ranking in this area.

"We were real emotional for this game," said Bulldogs senior Kevin Simpson, who led a balanced attack with 22 points. "They beat us on the last shot the last game and we didn't appreciate it."

Southern (16-1, 8-1) had just come off a championship in the Charm City Classic in which it beat Rice of New York, then No. 1 in the national poll.

But after King of Chicago was moved into the top spot and the Bulldogs placed second in the next national poll, a disappointed Southern was sabotaged by the Sabers.

"They knocked us out of the national-championship picture," said Simpson. "Now we have to give everything to win the state."

"You just have to do what you have to do to be No. 1," added Bulldogs forward Dante Williams, who pitched in with 12 points and nine rebounds although he did not play in the first half.

The Bulldogs turned on the pressure during the first six minutes of the third period and unleashed a 23-2 run that transformed a one-point game into a 56-36 Southern bulge.

"Our kids really wanted it," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "I think this one was personal. We stepped up the defense and played with tremendous intensity during that run."

But No. 2 Southwestern (13-3, 5-3) was staring into its second straight defeat after being upset by Walbrook on Tuesday and refused to fold.

Sparked by point guard Haywood Eaddy (game-high 28 points), the Sabers rattled off the next 15 points in a row and were back into contention after a three-pointer by Donnie Joy shaved their deficit to 56-51 early in the fourth period.

"They're an excellent team," said Smith. "They just wouldn't quit. But I think we finally focused on one game, not on the rankings."

The Bulldogs answered Southwestern's surge with eight consecutive points with Simpson starting the run with a tap-in and Damon Cason (20 points) finishing it with a three-pointer.

Southwestern never got closer than nine after that. "We were real disappointed when we weren't No. 1 [nationally] before that last game and let down some and lost," said Simpson. "But now I think we've totally let go of that first loss."

The defending state Class 3A champions who have moved up to 4A, Southern now appears to have a smooth road to the Baltimore City title.

But no future victory will be more satisfying than yesterday's.

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