Roland Park team comes up short in academic finals

March 20, 1996|By Marilyn McCraven | Marilyn McCraven,SUN STAFF

After months of dominating the local academic competition and even rolling past an out-of-state foe, Roland Park Middle School's team knew yesterday's match would be different. The Salt Lake City team was tough, the toughest yet.

And it showed. Baltimore's students seemed subdued. One LTC team member gnawed his knuckles; another one massaged the back of her neck and frowned.

Their grim expressions were an omen. In less than 90 minutes, Salt Lake City's Bennion Junior High School beat Roland Park, 58-43, in the second stage of finals of the National Academic League's 23-city competition, ending what had been an undefeated season.

"We lost, and I don't feel good about it. I don't like to lose," said Goodwin Chen, an eighth-grade team standout.

The teams played via satellite under less than desirable conditions. Roland Park was wedged behind a half-moon-shaped desk in a small, windowless room in a Kinko's copy center behind White Marsh Mall. Bennion appeared to have a bigger room with a window.

Both teams suffered through the technological kinks associated with satellite hookups. Audio was often less than clear. Roland Park's team squinted to see the scoreboard in Salt Lake City, which was sometimes blocked by a student's head.

At one point, Baltimore's questioner and judge, Kathy Babbington, asked Bennion to name two types of verbs. A Bennion team member failed to answer, but a Roland Park team member answered correctly. A Bennion team member muttered "I thought she asked for two types of birds."

Unlike other matches this year, this one found Roland Park the definite underdog. Bennion's team was older and more experienced in national competition.

Yesterday's score didn't reflect the entire contest. After a slow start, Roland Park pulled to within 3 points of Bennion by the end of the second quarter. But the final quarter belonged to Bennion.

Even in defeat, the Roland Park team looked toward next year. "We're going to carry on the tradition, and we're going all the way next year. Watch out Salt Lake City; we'll be back," said Alex Bowens, a seventh-grade member of the team.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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