Ducks are hoping to make noise in states

March 10, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

The road to the Cole Field House and the state boys basketball final four often has produced a surprise team to carry the title of Cinderella.

But there may be a slight problem if this year's Cinderella team, Douglass, is successful: Finding a shoe to fit webbed feet.

The Ducks (12-9), ranked No. 18 in the area after winning the East Regionals last week, will play No. 16 Randallstown in a state 3A semifinal contest, this afternoon at 3.

"I take what I get and try to do the best with it," said Douglass coach John Nash. "I had no idea this would happen and I'm hoping it doesn't end."

In mid-November, the Ducks had little reason to make plans for a trip to College Park.

With only returning two players from last season's team, nothing much was expected from the Ducks. In their season opener, they were manhandled in a 109-46 loss to Dunbar at the Tip-Off Mixer at Lake Clifton. Douglass finished third in the Baltimore City 2A-3A League, behind the Poets and Poly.

To qualify for the state tournament, the Ducks had to win their final regular-season game. They beat City, 71-60, to finish at 9-9 and gain the fifth seed in the East Region.

Now, they are two victories away from a state championship.

"I'm happy that we are there," said senior Robert Smith. "Since we were Douglass no one thought we would be playing for a championship, but the Ducks are back."

Smith, a 5-foot-2 guard, and Alphonso Jones, a 5-10 sophomore guard from St. Frances, has led the Douglass playoff run. The duo has combined to score 143 of Douglass' 218 points in the playoffs. Jones has 78 and Smith 65 in three road victories at Northern, Broadneck and Poly.

In last season's state 3A tournament, Douglass had to forfeit a 59-57 regional quarterfinal victory over Centennial because it had used an ineligible player.

Reaching Cole Field House for the state final four and a possible state championship has been a pleasant and positive surprise at Douglass.

"The kids around the school are in an uproar," said Nash, who coached the Ducks to the 1989 Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title. "The most important thing is that the faculty and student body is behind us completely."

Randallstown's road to the University of Maryland was a little less complicated, winning the North Region title as the No. 1 seed for its first final four appearance since 1990.

With four juniors and a sophomore in the starting lineup, the Rams (17-6) have used their overall team quickness to beat their opponents. In recent weeks, the Rams have been able to handle opposing defenses slowing the tempo.

"I'm not really surprised by what we have accomplished," said Randallstown coach Reggie Brooks. "We played up and down in the first couple of weeks, but we worked through it and have put together a nice run."

After a 7-15 mark in 1992-93, the Rams finished second to Woodlawn in the Baltimore County 3A-4A League and brings a 12-game winning streak to College Park.

"When we lost for the second time to Woodlawn, it really gave us a boost," said junior forward Daron Ward. "Everyone has just contributed and worked really hard."

Top-ranked Southern-Baltimore and No. 2 Dunbar, which won state championships in their initial appearance in the state tourney last season, will be attempting to win a second consecutive title.

Tonight at 7, Southern (21-1), ranked No. 4 by USA Today, will play Crossland (23-0) of Prince Georges' County, ranked No. 1 in the Washington area. The winner will play either the Baltimore area's No. 4 team Glen Burnie (20-3) or Springbrook (21-2) of Montgomery County, Washington's No. 4 team, for the state 4A title Saturday at 8.

In the state 2A semifinals, the Poets (21-3), ranked No. 15 by USA Today, will meet Potomac (18-7) of Prince George's, Washington's No. 20 team, tomorrow at 9.

The game offers an intriguing matchup at center between Dunbar's 6-8 McDonald's All-American Norman Nolan and Potomac's William "Dink" Peters, who is 6-8 and 290 pounds.

Making its second appearance in three seasons, No. 3 Milford Mill (21-0) is the favorite in the state 1A final four.

Tomorrow, the Millers face Williamsport of Washington County at 5, with the winner playing either Wilde Lake (13-10) or Snow Hill of Worcester County, Saturday at 1 for the state championship.

Milford Mill lost to Dunbar in the regional finals last season. A solid nucleus of junior center Blanchard Hurd, senior point guard Kenny Bostic, sophomore forward Keon Sellman and senior forward Jermaine Dunn have led the Millers back to the playoffs.

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