No. 1 Southwestern rolls into final McMurray hits seven 3s in romp over Paint Branch

Class 4A/Boys basketball

March 14, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- In an attempt to duplicate the atmosphere of the University of Maryland's Cole Field House, top-ranked Southwestern practiced this week at Coppin State for its Class 4A state semifinal game against Paint Branch of Montgomery County.

Apparently the move paid off.

Cornelius McMurray (28 points, seven rebounds, three assists) tied a state record with seven three-pointers -- his last coming with 2: 57 to play. Robert Gray had 16 points and six rebounds, and sophomore Earl Carr (13 points) was 6-for-9 from the field as the No. 1 Sabers (26-0) cruised, 68-48.

Southwestern will play Prince George's County's Parkdale, a 72-63 winner over Calvert, in tomorrow's 8 p.m. championship game.

"This was our floor once we stepped on it. I think they were a little intimidated by us," said McMurray. "We took their hearts out of the game early."

Paint Branch had recent history on its side, having knocked off the Washington area's unbeaten and top-ranked team, Gaithersburg (19-0 then) on Feb. 18. But there would be no upset last night, because the Panthers (17-7), ranked No. 8 by The Washington Post, had no answer for the Sabers' precision perimeter shots.

"We wanted to slow the game down, which is why we played a zone. But when you're shooting the ball like they were, from 30 or 35 feet out, there's really no defense for that," said 23rd-year coach Hank Galotta. "Usually, when you're shooting from that far out, you don't hit them all night long. But they just kept on hitting them."

Paint Branch's 6-7, 235-pound Peter Bauer, a left-handed pitcher with a baseball scholarship to South Carolina, finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Darrian Lee had 11 points, the only other Panther to score in double figures.

"They were prepared for this game, but I was a little worried because the kids had half a day, and I was concerned about a mental letdown," said sixth-year Southwestern coach Terry Leverett, whose career record is 107-33. "Playing on this floor in the shadows of great players like Albert King, Joe Smith and Keith Booth really got them excited."

Southwestern sprinted to a 24-12 first-period lead and extended it to 39-24 at the half, with McMurray scoring 22 points -- including six three-pointers. Gray had eight, with two three-pointers.

The Sabers shot a sizzling 8-for-11 from the field to build a 21-10 lead, going 5-for-7 from three-point range in that stretch. McMurray sank four three-pointers and Gray added one.

McMurray's fifth three-pointer, with 6: 30 left in the half, put the Sabers up 29-14, and another three-pointer by Gray made it 32-16. McMurray's sixth three-pointer made it 37-19 with 4: 16 left in the half.

Paint Branch scored the first three points of the third period, but the Sabers responded with an 13-0 run for a 52-28 lead that forced a Paint Branch time-out with three minutes remaining.

Carr scored 11 points in the period, including the first seven of the big run.

The 5-10 sophomore nailed a three-pointer and twice made layups going right at Bauer. Southwestern led, 59-30, heading into the fourth period.

Parkdale 72, Calvert 61: Tremain Rowles scored 22 points and Tremaine Price added 21, leading Parkdale (19-8) of Prince George's County past Calvert, in the other Class 4A state semifinal.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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