New Long Reach shocks Crisfield, plays for title Frosh Conwell leads 40-38 upset of 23-4 Crabbers

Class 1A/Boys basketball

March 15, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The over-reachers of Long Reach did it again yesterday, defeated a team they weren't supposed to.

The first-year Lightning (11-13) steamed the Crisfield Crabbers (23-4) of Somerset County in the state Class 1A semifinals at the University of Maryland, 40-38.

Long Reach, from Columbia, will play No. 13 Edgewood for the state championship at Cole Field House at 1 p.m. today.

Both teams featured strong defenses, but Long Reach featured an offensive impact player who carried the Lightning to victory on his freshman shoulders.

Devin Conwell, younger brother of Irving Conwell, an All-Metro choice last season who is now at Mount St. Mary's College, scored 13 points and had 14 rebounds -- eight on the offensive boards. He shot 5-for-10 from the field, made two steals and blocked a shot.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Conwell came up with two crucial rebounds off missed Long Reach free throws in the final 15 seconds that sealed more-experienced Crisfield's fate.

"Devin is a beast," said teammate Turon Kosh, Long Reach's best defensive player, whose foul trouble kept him benched most of the first half. "Take him away from our team, and we don't win a game."

Long Reach trailed, 32-27, entering the fourth period. But then a drive by Conwell pared Crisfield's lead to 34-31. Conwell's steal and assist to Talley White on a layup kept the Lightning close at 36-33. His free throw made it 36-34.

With 1: 15 to play, Shawn Green took an inbounds pass and sank a three-pointer, putting Long Reach ahead, 37-36.

"That three-pointer was the big play of the game," said Crisfield coach Phil Rayfield.

Long Reach coach Al Moraz said that Crisfield had played man-to-man on every inbounds play until then. "But one of my assistant coaches noticed they were in a zone, and we switched our play at the last second."

Green said he found himself unexpectedly wide open. "I tried not to get too excited after I made it," he said. "But the real reason we won was Devin's rebounding."

Conwell, who averages 14.5 points and 10 rebounds, made another important rebound after two missed free throws by Crisfield's Michael Whidbee on the Crisfield possession that followed Green's three-pointer. The rebound eventually led to a Chris Smith free throw that put the Lightning ahead, 38-36. Free throws by Smith and Kosh accounted for Long Reach's final points.

Smith, Long Reach's junior point guard who averages 15 points, scored 11, had eight rebounds, three steals and two assists and turned the ball over just twice. His quickness was too much for Crisfield to handle.

Crisfield, winner of seven state titles but none since 1982, was depending on senior guard Andy Collins, who averages 15.3 points and is the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,200 points. But Collins scored just 10 points. "I know Long Reach's record isn't that good," said Rayfield, "but their schedule helped prepare them for a game like this."

Long Reach played mainly larger Class 2A and 3A teams; Crisfield played mainly small schools that comprise Class 1A.

"Our schedule obviously helped us," Moraz said. "But bottom line is, we won because of defense. That's why we're playing for the championship."

LONG REACH -- Green 9, Kosh 1, Smith 11, Conwell 13, White 4, Long 2. Totals: 16 7-17 40.

CRISFIELD -- Turpin 16, Whidbee 6, Collins 10, Evans 6. Totals: 14 8-13 38. Half: C 22-17.

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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