T. Johnson handles Southwestern LOCAL SPORTS: CHARM CITY CLASSIC

January 27, 1995|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The Southwestern High basketball team headed into the Charm City Classic feeling pretty good about itself after upsetting Walbrook earlier this week.

But the sixth-ranked Sabers received a jolt at Reitz Arena last night when Thomas Johnson of Frederick held them to 29.6 per cent shooting and scored a 56-49 victory.

"I think our kids figured we'd just show up and we could beat a team," said Southwestern coach Terry Leverett. "I think we just felt too assured that we would win."

Thomas Johnson (13-1) wasn't buying that theory.

The Patriots never trailed after the first basket, used their size advantage well and solved the Southwestern press enough to keep control throughout.

"This was an opportunity for us to step up a little bit and see how we could play against a more talented team than we're used to," said Patriots coach Tom Dickman. "They're the quickest team we've played all year.

"But our kids didn't give them a whole lot of second shots, which I was concerned about, and we adapted well to how they were pressing us."

The Patriots sagged back on defense to prevent Southwestern from crashing the boards and wound up with 26 defensive

rebounds on the way to a 37-24 overall advantage.

That left the outside open for Sabers sharpshooter Ernie Evans, whose five three-pointers helped keep his team within range through 26 minutes of the game .

But Evans (23 points) cooled off and Tom Praesel stepped up in the fourth period to hit two key baskets for the Patriots after Southwestern had pulled to within 43-42.

Eight consecutive free throws in the final two minutes stashed the game away for Thomas Johnson, which split two games with Oakland Mills in its only other appearances against an area team.

Forward Jason Williams led Thomas Johnson with 20 points, Praesel added 15 points and 6-7 sophomore center Terence Morris contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots to the Sabers' cause.

"We all feel privileged to play a team like this," said Williams.

"Our league is not the top one in America. But we were patient working against the press and we wound up getting some easy ones."

Southwestern (10-5) forced Thomas Johnson into 21 turnovers, but when the Patriots broke through the initial wall, they scored almost at will, shooting 50 per cent (20-of-40) from the floor.

"We were just lousy," said Leverett. "And we ran into a nTC fundamentally sound team that scored many of its points in the paint. We played well in spurts, but not for long enough."

Leverett was particularly distraught about his team's tendency to rush shots.

"Each of our players wants to be the man," he said. "It was one pass and shoot. But we're young and we don't have a lot of size.

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