Ward leads Rams past Wright

March 06, 1994|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,Special to The Sun

Top-seeded and host Randallstown got 13 fourth-quarter points from junior forward D. J. Ward and posted a 63-53 win over third-seeded C.M. Wright in the Class 3A North region final, denying the Mustangs (13-7) a first-ever trip to Cole Field House for the state semifinals.

Clinging to a 41-38 lead, Randallstown (17-6) looked to Ward, who responded with seven points in a 10-0 run by the Rams to open the fourth quarter. Ward, who finished with 24 points, closed out the Rams' scoring with a monstrous dunk with .6 seconds left in the game.

"We look to D. J. Ward in the clutch," said Randallstown coach Reggie Brooks. "We like to get him the ball inside a little more, but he can hit the outside shot to spread the defense."

C. M. Wright was able to cut Randallstown's fourth-quarter advantage to 53-46 with 3:25 left on a pair of three-point baskets by senior Kory McBride (eight points) and senior Chad Bowman. The Rams however, responded with a quick six points to regain command.

C.M. Wright was led by junior center Chris Ruekert's 18 points and 11 rebounds. Mustangs senior center Shawn Crouch added 13. Randallstown's sophomore guard Troy Lewis contributed 16 points and senior forward Lance Anderson 10.

"Coming off that double-overtime win last night may have taken a little out of my players in the fourth quarter," said C.M. Wright coach George Constantine, referring to the Mustangs' 56-55 region semifinal win over Dundalk. "A few of my better shooters were coming up short on their shots late in the game and that definitely hurt us."

In the first quarter, Randallstown exploited their quickness by forcing eight C.M. Wright turnovers to break a 6-6 tie with a seven-point run that was capped by Ward's three-point basket with 1:36 left. As the Rams attempted to run out the clock, C.M. Wright stole the ball for a final possession.

With 1.3 seconds, Mustangs senior forward John Bonham made a rare four-point play on a three-pointer on which he was fouled. Bonham sank the free throw, pulling C.M. Wright within 13-10,to give the Mustangs an emotional lift.

C.M. Wright began taking advantage of the Mustangs' low-post muscle by working the ball into Ruekert, who tallied six points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in the second quarter.

Ruekert also managed to get Randallstown senior center Cameron Bryant in foul trouble as he picked up his third foul with 3:00 left in the half.

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