St. Paul's now playing up to size

Crusaders eye No. 1 seed

`The Game' returns tonight


High Schools

February 08, 2002|By Lem Satterfield and Katherine Dunn | Lem Satterfield and Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

The St. Paul's boys basketball teams "generally take a while until they start playing well," according to their coach, but on Friday night at Gilman, the Crusaders came into their own.

Led by Walter Hill, a 6-foot-2 swingman and 6-7 center Holden Plack, the Crusaders drilled their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference rivals on the road, 66-52.

Hill scored 16 points while being the primary defender against Gilman's Scott Gehring, limiting the Greyhounds' top scorer to 11 points. Plack, who primarily guarded the Greyhounds' 6-5, 240-pound Victor Abiamiri, scored 15 points.

The Crusaders have split with Gilman, but raised their overall record to 15-5 (13-1 conference) with Tuesday's victory over St. Mary's.

"I knew, coming into the season, this is one of the biggest teams we've ever had, and one of the quickest teams we've ever had," St. Paul's coach Jack MacMullan said. "I was hoping it was only a matter of time before we started putting things together."

Will Baugher (6-4) and Ray Brown (6-5) assist Plack in the paint. The backcourt includes Drew Dennis and Marques Dent, with Hill and Brent Hargest at the forward positions.

"We play a lot of guys. We get between 10 and 12 guys in the game. The No. 1 thing we emphasize is playing defense. They understand what we're trying to do on defense," MacMullan said. "Probably our greatest team strength is foot quickness, and we try to make that an advantage in terms of pressuring on defense and trying to get to the basket on offense."

With victories over Pallotti today and Friends on Tuesday, the Crusaders could close the regular season with the No. 1 seed entering the MIAA B Conference playoffs on Feb. 19.

Anybody's game

All bets are off when No. 2 Institute of Notre Dame and No. 5 Mercy tip off in the 36th annual edition of "The Game" at 7:30 tonight at the Towson Center.

Last year's girls basketball showdown drew about 3,500 fans, and this year, there could be an even bigger crowd.

"It's just kind of taken on a life of its own," IND coach Herb Hoelter said. "Both teams have tremendous alumni and faculty following, and the kids get excited. It's probably one of the biggest high school events in the state."

All that hoopla can make it difficult to concentrate on the game, but for players on both sides, winning this game is practically as important as winning the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championship.

"Every Mercy-IND game is a huge game," Mercy senior BJ Banjo said. "It doesn't matter what anybody's record is. The game is so intense. Everyone wants to win so bad."

Although the two teams play twice during the regular season, one meeting is always scheduled at a neutral site and designated "The Game" to continue the tradition.

Last year, the Magic won for the fifth straight time, 60-46, and leads the series, 24-11.

The Magic also won this season's first meeting, 57-48, behind 28 points from Banjo, but the Indians have risen from No. 17 to No. 2 in two weeks after getting their starting lineup back and upsetting then-No. 1 Archbishop Spalding and then-No. 2 St. Frances.

Berlett commits

Eastern Tech pitcher Brandon Berlett, a 6-6, 225-pound right-handed pitcher, has committed to Stetson University for a baseball scholarship, said his coach, Ken King.

Stetson went 43-17 last spring, losing to eventual NCAA champion Miami (Fla.) in the regional final. The team was ranked as high as No. 7 nationally.

With a 3.9 grade-point average and a 1,250 SAT score, Berlett led the Mavericks both at the plate and on the mound last season. He struck out 46 in 29 innings and walked only 20 in going 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA. He batted .464 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, 17 runs scored and 28 RBIs.

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