South Carroll's student cheering section chanted Marshall Strickland's name for one minute during halftime of last night's basketball game between the Cavaliers and Old Mill of Anne Arundel County.
It was a thank you for the many thrills that Indiana-signee Strickland has given the students over the past year, since the 18-year-old basketball standout transferred from DeMatha to the Winfield school last December.
Strickland shined amid a highly charged atmosphere, scoring 35 points during a 94-56 win over Old Mill. He also had eight as sists, six rebounds and three steals before leaving the game for good with 5:40 left in the third quarter.
The game was likely Strickland's last for the Cavaliers, as he awaits a decision from State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick concerning his eligibility.
Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and Carroll County athletic supervisors contend that he has played four years of high school basketball and has exhausted his eligibility.
Stickland was playing his second game under a temporary restraining order granted by Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Michael M. Galloway, who will hear final testimony this morning in an appeal Strickland made to be allowed to play pending Grasmick's decision. Her decision will not come for at least another five days.
"I tried to play as hard as I could, knowing this could be my last game." Strickland said. "The fans were really up for it and gave 110 percent. They"re amazing. It was hard to prepare not knowing if this was your last game."
Regardless of what happens concerning his eligibility, Strickland said he will remain at South Carroll and graduate from there. He also said he would continue to practice with the team throughout the season if declared ineligible.
'I just tried to have as much fun as I could tonight."
Part of that fun involved a couple of alley-oop passes to 6-foot-8 teammate Josh Boone, who scored 14 points and had 15 rebounds.
"The atmosphere got pretty crazy tonight." Boone said. "I hope it wasn't Marshall's last game, but if it was, it's been a fun ride."
South Carroll's next game is to morrow night at home against Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County.
But Judge Galloway has said he"ll issue a decision by then concerning the continuance of the temporary restraining order. He also indicated the possibility that last night's game against Old Mill could be forfeited.
The bond between Strickland and his teammates is so strong that the team is not worried about forfeits, Boone said.
"We would gladly forfeit every game this season if he could continue playing with us." Boone said. 'We"d rather play with him than win."
Old Mill coach Greg Smith said he was not upset that Strickland played against his team.
"We look on it as a challenge. You don't get to play against kids like that often. And the atmosphere here is nice for high school basketball. There's a lot of people." Smith said.