D'Imperio-led Arundel pulls away to title, 65-47

Guard scores 24 points, 16 in second half, to help Wildcats advance

4A East boys basketball

High schools

March 03, 2001|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With Paul D'Imperio taking charge as the emotional - and scoring - leader, Arundel pulled away from C. Milton Wright in the second half to capture the Class 4A East region basketball championship, 65-47, in Bel Air last night.

The 6-foot-1 senior guard scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Wildcats to a state tournament berth for the first time since 1995.

The teams, similar in style and evenly matched, played to a 27-27 tie in the first half. Arundel took command after the break with D'Imperio scoring 16 of his points in the second half.

"We are best when we drive to the basket, and we started doing that in the second half. We started opening up the outside shots," said D'Imperio.

Arundel outscored the Mustangs 37-20 in the second half with unruffled play by Derek Hardin, Antiny Leake and Rodney Spriggs, all of whom scored in double figures.

"This was a real tough atmosphere here tonight, extremely loud," said Arundel coach Sam Golder.

"But I cannot think of a better group of kids to experience this with."

Arundel's zone defense held Justin Rice, the Mustangs' big-play maker, scoreless for 18 minutes of play. Rice, who topped the 1,000-point mark in career scoring this season, went 2 for 12 in the second half, finishing the game with 14 points.

"We knew if we played tough defense, moved the ball around, we could do it," said D'Imperio.

The Wildcats (16-10), the No. 4 seed in the tournament, have been at their best in regional tournaments.

"This team really comes up big in the playoffs," said Golder. "This is a super bunch of kids. I may coach 30 more years and never get another group like this as long as I coach."

D'Imperio, he said, "is one of our emotional leaders, and in an atmosphere like this you need an emotional guy to step up, not worry about all this and do his thing. And that's exactly what he did. He was unbelievable tonight. He gets so much emotion going for him. He is like the Energizer bunny."

Junior Brian Balcer scored 13 points and senior Matt Weigl eight for coach Paul Perkovich's Mustangs (18-7). It is the fourth time Wright has settled for the runner-up trophy in regional basketball playoffs.

At Arundel, the boys basketball team has been overshadowed by its highly successful girls basketball team.

"Quite frankly, I don't think a lot of people know Arundel has a boys basketball team," said Golder. "So it's kind of fitting that we are going to states, as well. We absolutely are not stunned by this."

Boys playoffs

(All games at University of Maryland, College Park) State semifinals Thursday, March 8

Class 3A Randallstown vs. Westlake, 3 Crossland vs. Thomas Johnson, 5

Class 4A Lake Clifton vs. tonight's Oxon Hill-E.Roosevelt winner, 7 Arundel vs. Magruder, 9 Friday, March 9

Class 1A Pikesville vs. Oakland Mills , 3 Snow Hill vs. Southern-Garrett, 5

Class 2A Dunbar vs. Fairmont Heights, 7 Wicomico vs. Fort Hill, 9 State finals Saturday, March 10

Class 1A, 1 p.m.

Class 3A, 3 p.m.

Class 2A, 6 p.m.

Class 4A, 8 p.m.

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