Last week, Edgewood coach Bob Slagle told his team that if it won its last four games, it was assured a top seed in the regional tournament.
It was not an easy situation for the Rams, because the first two were against neighborhood rivals Aberdeen and Joppatowne. Players from the three schools play with and against each other on the playgrounds and talk about bragging rights.
Edgewood (13-4, 8-1) has had the better of it so far, beating Aberdeen in overtime last week, and defeating Joppatowne last night, 81-47.
The Mariners were in position to make a run at the lead late in
the third quarter when successive baskets by Darnell Everett cut an Edgewood lead to 47-38, but Alfred McAllister answered with a three-point basket and the Rams led at the break, 52-40.
A Mickey Weber three-pointer got Joppatowne within 54-43 before the home team went cold and Edgewood turned the next seven minutes into rebounding and layup drills.
Such was the lopsided situation that the visitors ran off 18 straight points in a 25-1 stretch that turned a 54-43 margin into 79-44 inside of the final minute.
"I thought they'd play us tougher," said Dwayne Winder, Edgewood's leading scorer with 18 points to go with 12 rebounds.
"Technically, this was one of the times where we were grinding out the points, building a 20-point lead. Then we got that spurt," ++ Slagle said.
"We play a lot of people, and are able to wear down teams. Then, the other side makes a couple of mistakes, we convert them into points and there's the momentum."
Slagle said he played down the game because the rivalry is so strong. "I didn't want them too high and I thought they were ready to play," he said.
This marked the fourth straight win with a revamped starting lineup that has juniors Mike Baldwin and Chris Finlay at the guards. Last night, Winder, McAllister and Eric Briggs started up front.
"I think it works better," said Winder, a 6-foot-2 senior. "As for the shuffling players in and out, it helps my endurance, but I'd rather be in there longer with the same group."
Nevertheless, the way this team goes up and down the floor, it often appears the parts to the machine are interchangeable. Against the Mariners, Winder was followed in scoring by McAllister and Briggs with 16 apiece.
Chris Gephardt led the home team with 14 points, followed by Everett with 11.