Randallstown runs away from Gwynn Park, 81-71

March 10, 1995|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

COLLEGE PARK -- With his team trailing by three and getting beaten badly on the boards early in yesterday's Class 3A state semifinal, Randallstown coach Kim Rivers figured the Rams needed to know the score.

"He said: 'If you don't start boxing out, you're not coming back here Saturday,' " said forward D.J. Ward.

The message got through.

The sixth-ranked Rams began to rebound, opposing Gwynn Park began to falter and -- an hour later -- Randallstown was beginning to put the finishing moves on the Prince George's County power, holding off a late charge to win, 81-71, at Cole Field House.

The Rams (25-1) advance to tomorrow's 3 o'clock final againstThomas Johnson -- a 46-44 winner over Broadneck. After five losses in the semifinals since 1980, the victory puts the Baltimore County school in its first state championship game.

"We had memories of last year," said Ward, whose team fell to Douglass of Baltimore in last season's semifinals. "We ran hard in practice and got conditioned for the bigger court. Today we came out ready to play."

Ward (19 points) as well as guard Lance Anderson (17) and forward Brian Broden (16) helped change the complexion of the game late in the first quarter and early in the second, keying a five-minute spurt that left Randallstown in command.

After finishing the opening quarter with a 10-2 run, Anderson, Lamont Clark (10 points), Ward and Troy Lewis (eight) each scored to start the second quarter to put their team ahead, 26-15.

After missing nine of their first 12 attempts from the field, the Rams shot 63 percent for the final 10 minutes of the half to go into the break leading, 37-27. They never led by fewer than five points after that.

Rivers said the difference in the game was his team's patience on offense and keeping the Yellow Jackets from getting hot from the outside.

"They left everything on the court today," said Rivers. "Our kids were a little nervous coming down here, but I think they did pretty well under the conditions."

Gwynn Park (19-6), however, also contributed, missing 15 layups, shooting barely over 50 percent from the free-throw line and committing 21 turnovers. For coach Steve Matthews, it was just a case of some bad bounces.

"From a coaching standpoint, my kids did everything I wanted them to do except put the ball in the basket," said Matthews, whose team is ranked 14th by the Washington Post. "We got foul shots and layups, but the guys were just pushing the ball all over the basket instead of in."

Next for Randallstown is a shot at the Class 3A state title. To win it, the Rams will first have to get through a 24-1 Thomas Johnson team that has a sizable advantage in the middle.

"We knew there were not too many teams that could run with us, and we got the job done," said Anderson. "There are no words [to describe the feeling]. We've worked hard for this all year, and it's finally paid off."

Said Rivers: "This is like a dream come true."

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