S. Carroll unable to stop P. Branch

Strickland scores 41, but Cavaliers fall, 79-72

3A West boys basketball

High School

March 01, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

South Carroll left Paint Branch last night wondering just what it would have taken to defeat the unbeaten, defending Class 3A state champion Panthers, who stretched their winning streak to 31 games.

A little better free-throw shooting? The No. 14 Cavs (20-5) were only 14-for-31 at the foul line in the 79-72 Class 3A West Region semifinal loss against the Panthers (23-0), the Washington area's No. 2-ranked team.

The Cavs, whose 12-game winning streak was broken, couldn't have asked for better performances from their premier players, point guard Marshall Strickland and 6-foot-6 center Josh Boone.

Strickland scored 41 points, had four rebounds, four assists and two steals. He shot 7-for-12 from three-point range and 12-for-23 overall.

Boone had a triple double, scoring 15 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking 10 shots. He was 6-for-12 from the floor.

"We gave it everything we had," Cavs coach Jim Carnes said. "We just came up a little short. This was the most physical game we were in all season and were outsized but hung in there. This was the most athletic team we played by far."

That athleticism probably was the difference in the game.

"Everyone we have plays above the rim, and they've probably never faced a team like that before," said Jamaal Wise, a 6-5 forward who had 28 points and 16 rebounds and lived up to his elite reputation.

Wise said his team was expecting a tough game and that Paint Branch's game plan was to try and contain Strickland and let the other players beat you.

South Carroll, whose fans filled half the gym 75 minutes before the game, showed jitters by missing its first seven shots, but recovered on the strength of two three-points baskets apiece from Strickland and Bryan Lowry to lead 19-18 after the first quarter.

The Cavaliers hung with Paint Branch through the second quarter despite a furious pace as Strickland sank two more three-pointers. The Panthers led at halftime, 35-34.

But an 18-5 run by Paint Branch to start the third quarter proved too much for the Cavaliers to overcome.

"We're a team that tends to go on second-half runs," Wise said. "I think we tired them out in the third quarter with our press."

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