Southern takes edge off Sabers S'western coach returns from ref-caused absence

January 17, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

No. 2 Southern-Balto. held off host and No. 12 Southwestern, 58-51, yesterday in a game that marked the return of Sabers coach Terry Leverett to the sideline following a five-week suspension.

Leverett, last season's All-Metro Coach of the Year, had been removed as a coach while a referees' complaint that he followed them and cursed at them after a 65-60 loss at Randallstown Dec. pTC 13 was investigated.

Southwestern principal Mildred Harris said yesterday she decided to allow Leverett to coach again after concluding that "some of the allegations, specifically the threats made against the referees, were not substantiated."

"I've talked to Coach Leverett and expect him to conduct himself in a professional manner as a teacher, coach, and role model to the students," Harris said. "I'm sure he will live up to that."

Leverett said yesterday he has to join a committee through the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association that will deal with improving sportsmanship in high school athletics.

"I'm just happy to be back," he added, "because I wanted to be a part of this program. If the kids missed me, they couldn't have missed me as much as I missed them."

In his first game back, though, Leverett's Sabers couldn't hold off Southern, a hot team that has rolled off nine consecutive victories since opening 0-2.

Sophomore forward Tyus Johnson led all scorers with 15 points for Southern (9-2), and Emil Curry added 11. Torrey Burke led Southwestern (5-6) with 12 points and Ronald Gray scored 11.

Isiah Johnson (eight points, four rebounds), who missed the first half because of a violation of team rules, put the Bulldogs ahead to stay at 50-48 after putting back his own miss.

After Kevin Bethea hit one of two free throws, bringing Southwestern to 50-49, Tyus Johnson connected on two of his own to extend the lead to three at 52-49 with 1: 14 remaining.

The Sabers closed to within one point on two free throws by Terrell Dantzler, but Melvin Scott found Isiah Johnson cutting down the baseline, and he scored for a 54-51 lead with 52.1

seconds left. Southern forced a turnover next, and free throws by Tyus Johnson and Scott put the game away.

"It's always tough to play here, no matter what, but a win is a win," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "We did a good job on the offensive boards, and that made a tremendous difference."

"We wanted to win this one for Coach Leverett, but we weren't focused on the game," said Southwestern junior guard Earl Carr. "We wanted to play street ball, and coach kept telling us we couldn't do that. By the time we realized [that], it was too late."

Leverett and Southwestern athletic director David Lang were notified of Harris' decision on Wednesday. Leverett conducted practice that same day.

Pub Date: 1/17/98

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