Edgewood pops Long Reach bubble Rams win, 60-51, capture first state crown since 1975

Boys 1A

March 16, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Edgewood's transition offense and pressure defense led the No. 13-ranked Rams (24-4) to the Class 1A championship over Long Reach, 60-51, yesterday at Cole Field House. It was Edgewood's first state title since 1975.

The Rams' victory extended their winning streak to 12 games and ended first-year Long Reach's Cinderella bid. The win also negated a superlative 20-point, 17-rebound effort by Lightning freshman Devin Conwell.

"I was beginning to wonder when midnight would come for Cinderella," Edgewood coach Bob Slagle said. "I thought it might not come soon enough."

Mike Griffin, who broke Dudley Bradley's school single-season scoring record of 556 points Friday, added 18 points yesterday, giving him 577. He also had two assists, five rebounds and one steal.

"We played better defense today and that made the difference," Griffin said. "They also had trouble stopping Allen Jordan [10 points] down low."

Keith Winder scored 16 points and had five rebounds, three assists and three steals for Edgewood, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor. "We underestimated them because they didn't have any seniors," Winder said. "I'm so happy. This is real big."

Edgewood led 31-25 at halftime, thanks largely to six fast-break layups -- three by Griffin, two by Kirk Forbes and one by Winder.

"Going in, we were concerned about their transition baskets, but we go to the boards very hard, and sometimes we get lax getting back," Long Reach coach Al Moraz said. "They were breaking players down the floor and not many teams have done that to us, so it took us awhile to adjust."

Moraz also said missed layups hurt his team and that Long Reach's hallmark press was not a factor against the taller Rams.

"Edgewood impressed me. They were so so quick," Moraz said. "We thought if we could hold them to 60 points we had a chance. Our defense was great; we needed more offense."

Edgewood was averaging 81 points per game, but fell into Long Reach's slower half-court style. The Rams had only two fast-break layups in the second half.

That favorable pace enabled the Lightning (11-14) to narrow Edgewood's lead to 37-35 with 1: 56 left in the third period.

The Rams finally took control with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Long Reach's Robert Francois was called for a technical foul -- unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting a foul call. The Rams converted a one-and-one, sank both technicals and then made another free throw off the possession to boost their lead to 44-35. Long Reach never got closer than six points again.

"The tech was real big," Winder said. "It got them down and pumped us up. I was able to relax a little."

Long Reach, although shorter, out-rebounded Edgewood, 47-36. Neither team handled the ball well.

Edgewood made 22 turnovers and Long Reach 23. But Long Reach point guard Chris Smith (12 points, six assists) did not make a turnover.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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