Nation's No. 1 St. Anthony edges Prospect Hall, 47-45 Baltimore's best Southern handles St. Raymond's

January 28, 1996|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

On one bench, Stu Vetter -- one of the most renowned coaches in the country who has built national title contenders wherever he's been, including his latest stop, Frederick's Prospect Hall.

On the other, Bob Hurley, a winner of more than 600 games in his 24 years at St. Anthony of New Jersey.

For most any high school basketball aficionado, last night's Northwest Bracket final at the Charm City Classic was a match made in hoop heaven. And for 3,824 at the Towson Center, it didn't disappoint.

Center Ajmal Basit scored 14 points, including the clinching free throw with 12 seconds remaining, as St. Anthony -- the top-ranked team in the nation according to USA Today -- withstood a late rally by national No. 15 Prospect Hall and held on for a 47-45 win.

After trailing by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, the Vikings (11-3) made a late surge and cut the lead to 44-41 after Shike Lee's two free throws with 1:48 left.

But they would never pull any closer, misfiring on three potential game-tying three-pointers in the final 45 seconds.

"To their credit, they did a great job of pressuring the ball," said Hurley. "We did an excellent job handling the ball, because we didn't turn it over despite their pressure."

Paced early by the inside play of the 6-8 Basit, St. Anthony raced out to a 12-4 lead in the first 5:15. But it wouldn't last for long, as forward Nate James (game-high 24 points) led Prospect Hall on an 8-2 run to put it within two early in the second quarter.

The undefeated Friars led, 22-21, at the break.

Earlier in the day, top-ranked Southern defeated St. Raymond's of New York, 75-57, to take the Northwest Bracket consolation.

Playing their third game in as many days, the Bulldogs -- ranked 12th in the nation by USA Today -- saw their 16-point lead dwindle to four before outscoring the Ravens, 27-15, in the final quarter to seal the win.

"They were tired as all get out," said coach Meredith Smith, whose team was fresh off a loss to nationally top-ranked St. Anthony on Thursday and a win over Walbrook on Friday. "By the fourth quarter, it was amazing that they still had as much as they did."

Southern (11-2) did the bulk of its damage on the boards, outrebounding the Ravens, 39-14, including 18 offensive rebounds.

Led by point guard Marlin Wise (game-high 17 points), and guards Dedric Galloway (16) and Charles Scott (10), the Bulldogs either burned their opponents from the perimeter or got the ball inside to forwards John Hemsley (13 points) and Kofi Pointer (11).

"This game was very important to us," said Wise, who hit three of five three-pointers.

"On Thursday we felt we played good enough to win but just ran out of gas.

"Today we wanted to prove that we really deserve to be ranked nationally, and that it's not just because of tradition."

Leading, 37-33, early in the third quarter, Southern slowly began to pull away, turning up its intensity on defense, forcing turnovers and then hitting its shots on the offensive end.

"They're a very talented team," said Ravens coach Gary DeCesare. "They played well late."

St. Raymond's (4-11) was paced by freshman Majestic Mapp, who came off the bench to score 15, including 11 in the second half. Vohn Hunter scored 12.

Smith said he was proud of his team's effort, especially on the boards.

"We knew we had to rebound in this tournament," said Smith. "We did it against St. Anthony, and I guess it just carried over to this game."

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