Spalding runs from Beth Tfiloh for C title Young Cavs win, 51-41, cap perfect league season

Boys basketball / MIAA C

February 22, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting five, the Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers are one of the metropolitan area's most inexperienced teams.

Now, they're also one of the most decorated.

In yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference title game at Gilman, Spalding used an 13-2 second-half run to pull away from Beth Tfiloh en route to a 51-41 victory.

For Spalding coach Tony Martin, winning with such a youthful team made the moment seem even more special.

"A lot of these kids last year were playing in recreation programs or on the JV level," said Martin. "No question they were nervous. No matter who we're playing, it's a different atmosphere in the playoffs."

But the win was Spalding's 20th in the past 23 games and gave the Cavaliers (21-8) a perfect record against league competition. On this day, however, they had to outlast upset-minded Beth Tfiloh.

The Warriors (12-10), who had won 11 straight, more than held their own with solid defense and rebounding, despite a noticeable disadvantage in size.

What Beth Tfiloh lacked, however, was offense.

Leading 27-26 at halftime, the Warriors scored just 14 points on ++ four field goals the rest of the way. After leading scorer Sam Ruskin scored 15 in the first half, he was held to four points in the final 16 minutes while battling foul trouble and constant double-teams.

"We definitely wanted to stop him," said Martin. "We didn't think they had anyone else who could hurt us. He's averaging [21] points a game, so we put a lot of focus and attention on him."

Forward Ariel Meyerstein picked up some of the slack, scoring most of his 14 points on slashing drives to the basket, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Led by forward Jason Campion (13 points) and guard James Bowen (11), Spalding began to pull away late in the third quarter. In a five-minute stretch, the Cavaliers turned up the pressure on defense and began forcing turnovers -- and thus, easy baskets.

They took the lead for good on Darren Johnson's layup with 2: 37 left in the quarter and extended it to 10 points, 45-35, after Bowen's fast-break layup with 5: 45 left.

"I think we were really nervous at the very beginning," said Campion. "Once we came out in the second half and made our run, the nerves calmed."

Nate Kuh had seven points and Isaac Brooks and Johnson six each for the Cavaliers.

Beth Tfiloh coach Chuck Monninger took the loss in stride, but vowed that his upstart program would continue to make waves.

"Spalding was the better team today, and they're definitely the best team in the league," said Monninger, whose team opened 1-9. "We've made considerable strides and we will be back."

Pub Date: 2/22/97

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