Gophers, Springbrook ready for friendly game

March 10, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

Considering the level of competition in the Class 4A boys basketball state semifinals at Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, it's understandable why two good friends are happy to be playing each other tonight.

"We've got three teams playing for a state championship and one [Southern-Baltimore] playing for a national championship," said Springbrook coach and Crofton resident Bob Cilento, whose top-seeded Blue Devils (21-2) meet fourth-seeded Glen Burnie (20-4) at 9 p.m.

It's Baltimore's best against the Washington metro area's best in the first 4A semifinal at 7 p.m.

The Baltimore Sun's No. 1-ranked and third-seeded Southern (21-1) plays the No. 1 team in The Washington Post Top 20 in second-seeded Crossland (23-0) of Prince George's County. Southern is also ranked No. 4 in USA Today.

"We're happy to be playing Glen Burnie," said Cilento, who coached Glen Burnie coach Terry Bogle's son, Brian, in youth baseball.

"We've never played against each other but we're friends and it's great we're playing the first game. The other two teams are really something, and hopefully they will forget about the winner of our game."

Bogle, who is making his first trip (school's second, the other in 1961) to Cole Field House in his 26 years as head coach, gave Cilento the nod of approval.

"Southern is the favorite and we're looking forward to our game with Springbrook," said Bogle. "We can play fast or slow."

It's likely Cilento's Blue Devils, ranked fourth by The Washington Post, will attempt to engage The Baltimore Sun's fourth-ranked Gophers in a slow-tempo game.

"We have to control the tempo, because we are not as deep as they are and we're probably the smallest team in the tournament," said Cilento, 43-7 in two years as head coach.

"It's got to be a game in the 60s rather than the 80s for us to win the big games."

Springbrook won the West Region by 54-50 over Montgomery Blair and 55-54 in the last two seconds over Gaithersburg to earn its fourth trip in five years to College Park.

Bogle's claim that his team is capable of winning at any tempo was evident in the East Regional where the Gophers edged Calvert of Calvert County, 55-54, in the semifinals and upset top-seeded Annapolis, 89-80, in the final.

"We're playing great at the right time and our kids are fired up and ready to go," said Bogle.

"Springbrook has a solid team. They're pretty smart with good athletes who execute."

The Blue Devils' junior backcourt of Tryrian Ridges (averages 20 points and six assists) and Shakil Brew (17-point average) is outstanding, and according to Cilento "the key to our success."

Ridges and Brew are tied for the team lead in steals with 59.

Springbrook's big men are seniors Matt Solomon (6 feet 5), Adam Connolly (6-3) and junior center Aaron Harrod (6-4). Solomon, who is being recruited by Loyola and Randolph Macon, averages eight points and six rebounds.

Connolly averages 14 points and eight boards and is being recruited by Georgetown, Stanford and Harvard. Harrod averages six points and seven rebounds.

Glen Burnie counters with its two-platoon system (using nine players) led by senior point guard William Brown (11 points, two assists). Brown leads his team with 59 steals.

The Gophers aren't shy from long distance where they put up 438 shots from three-point range, making 118 (26.9 percent), and shot 42.5 from the floor overall.

Senior Shawn Mahaney (9.0 points per game) can be deadly from three-point range as he was with four three-pointers and 21 points in the region final, and sophomore guard Desmond Dailey averaged 11 points a game.

Brown and Mahaney average 26-percent efficiency from three-point range, Dailey hits 30.9 percent and forward Andre Bryan (6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds) hits 50 percent.

Six-foot-6 junior Marquise Farmer (11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, both team-leading stats) controls the inside with defensive specialists Rocky Newton (6-0), Kenny Pitts (6-2) and Jeff Dickerson (6-2).

Dickerson, who Bogle calls "one of our MVPs," averages 7.0 points and 6.2 rebounds, and 6-7 senior Scott Ledbetter (3.1-rebound average) has a knack for crucial rebounds.

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