Oak Hill wears down Calvert Hall CHARM CITY CLASSIC

January 28, 1995|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

Eighth-ranked Calvert Hall ventured into the land of the giants yesterday afternoon at the Charm City Classic.

On this day, however, despite a diligent effort, the Cardinals found no magic beanstalk.

Facing defending national champion Oak Hill Academy of Virginia -- the top-ranked team in the country according to USA Today -- the Cardinals found a more experienced and taller squad.

And after staying with the Warriors for the first 11 minutes -- frustrating the fast-breaking team with multiple traps and a slower tempo -- Calvert Hall was put away en route to a 74-43 loss in the opening game of the Northwest bracket at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.

The Cardinals return to the court today at 3:30 to face New Jersey's Paterson Catholic, a 63-52 loser to St. John's Prospect Hall of Frederick in yesterday's other Northwest semifinal.

Oak Hill moves on to the Northwest championship game tonight at 7 against St. John's Prospect Hall.

Calvert Hall's good play early yesterday was of little solace to coach Mark Amatucci.

"We didn't come down here just to show up and put time in," said Amatucci. "We came here to win two ballgames, and I thought we did a good job in the first half. But this is the first time we've been out of a game, and that's because we didn't put as much effort into the second half."

Oak Hill (23-1) -- which held an average 5-inch height advantage at every position in the frontcourt -- asserted itself early and often.

Warriors 6-foot-7 forward Ron Mercer (20 points) started the fireworks with a reverse ally-oop slam six seconds into the game. In the first half, Oak Hill scored seven of its 13 baskets on dunks, and shot 58 percent for the game.

But Calvert Hall (15-5) hung tough, using a balanced offensive attack -- led by John McKay (11 points) and Tavar Witherspoon (10) -- to tie the game at 18 after Juan Dixon's three-pointer with 5:29 left in the half.

From there, however, it was all Oak Hill.

The Warriors scored 16 of the final 23 points in the half to take a 34-25 lead at the break and steadily stretched their lead throughout the second half.

"They got on an early run and hit some shots, but once we got started we were fine," said Mercer, who was 9-of-15 from the field.

Said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith: "We were a little sluggish and didn't take care of the ball in the first half, but we made an adjustment at halftime and things started to work the right way."

The Warriors' height took its toll, and by game's end the Cardinals had been out-rebounded, 48-33.

The Warriors say they would've preferred a stiffer test against the Cardinals, but Smith said his team will be ready.

"Calvert Hall is well-coached and they play well defensively," said Smith. "But we'll have to be more alert and ready to play when they throw the ball up [tonight]."


Northwest consolation: Calvert Hall vs. Paterson Catholic (N.J.), 3:30 p.m.

Southeast consolation: Dunbar vs. Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.), 5:15 p.m.

Northwest championship: Oak Hill Academy (Va.) vs. St. John's Prospect Hall, 7 p.m.

Southeast championship: St. Anthony (N.J.) vs. Lake Clifton, 8:45 p.m.

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