Crandell, Thomas spark Southern to win Bulldogs advance to states by handling Poly, 67-51

Boys basketball

March 03, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Scott Crandell played the game of his life, Matt Thomas used every one of his 240 pounds to block out a swarming band of Poly players on the boards and Southern-AA was on its way to Cole Field House.

The Bulldogs overcame the quickness of the Engineers for a 67-51 victory in the Class 2A East championship game at Southern.

The Bulldogs will meet Central, a 69-59 winner over Surrattsville, Friday at 3 p.m. in College Park.

Crandell, a 6-foot-1 senior, refused to wilt under the intense pressure of the Poly defense and had 25 points and some crucial rebounds.

But it was the 6-5 Thomas who put on a rebounding clinic.

Thomas cleared out three and four players at a time for rebounds and then managed to get the ball off to his teammates in spite of intense defensive pressure.

Thomas pulled down 26 rebounds and scored 15 points to subdue the Engineers who bombarded the basket with 34 three-point shot attempts in 32 minutes.

Derek Hawkins joined in the offensive fireworks for Southern with 16 points.

Poly (18-7) hit only five of 34 threes, making it nearly impossible to keep pace with the deliberate Bulldogs (16-8) who made very few mistakes and basically controlled the tempo of the game.

Poly was led by Owain States (14 points) and John McLean (13) and Joe Pace added 10.

The aggressive Engineers were also hurt by fouls, putting the Bulldogs in the one-and-one early in both halves.

Southern hit 22 of 27 from the free-throw line, compared to 6 of 9 for Poly.

"It was absolutely Matt Thomas's best game ever," said Southern coach Tom Albright. "He was an inspiration to our kids the way he handled the basketball against their pressure as well as all his rebounds and scoring. Matt could have wilted but he didn't."

Albright hesitated a moment and said: "People just don't feel like our kids can play with the level of intensity we do. We're easy to underrate because we don't look like we're capable of playing at the level we have to play at. You don't know what's inside of our players unless you work with them."

For Poly coach Bucky Kimmett it was a long night as he watched his players continuously fire away from far beyond the three-point line at times.

"We can shoot much better than this," said Kimmett. "It wasn't anything they did to us on defense, we just couldn't hit our shots. We made a nice run to tie the game in the second quarter but our foul trouble soon caught up with us. But we have been playing this way all year and winning a lot of games."

It was that physical style that motivated Scott Crandell, though, last night.

"I love to play that way," he said. "I can always do better in a rough game."

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