In MIAA `B' final, St. Paul's slows down Gilman, 69-55

Crusaders use athleticism to earn first title in 5 years

Boys basketball

February 24, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The St. Paul's basketball team beat host Gilman up and down the court, got superb defensive efforts from several players and controlled the boards to win its first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title in five years, 69-55.

Gilman was the site of yesterday's MIAA B and C Conference finals. But being home did not help the Greyhounds against the No. 17 Crusaders (19-5), who closed the season with 17 consecutive league victories.

Forwards Ray Brown and Holden Plack scored 16 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 22 rebounds as the Crusaders out-positioned the Greyhounds (21-13) inside.

Walter Hill held Gilman's leading scorer, Scott Gehring, to 17 points. Hill finished with 12 points and Drew Dennis, who had several steals that led to baskets, tossed in 13.

"We're the most athletic team in the B Conference, and I think that showed today," said St. Paul's coach Jack MacMullan, who was congratulated in the locker room afterward by Rick Collins, coach of the last St. Paul's B champion. "We like to put pressure on our opponents and tire them out."

Gilman coach Tony Jordan said his team lost steam in the second half and said he will rethink the team's 34-game schedule.

"It might have been too many games to stay strong," Jordan said. "We were tired near the end of the season, but really today it was a matter of us getting caught up in the hype of trying to win our first title in 20 years."

St. Paul's used the plan that enabled the Crusaders to take two of three games from Gilman this season - deny the Greyhounds' offensive standouts.

"Gilman has an excellent half-court offense and can dominate inside if you let them," MacMullan said. "To beat them you have to limit the number of touches of Victor [Abiamiri] and Gehring get, and we did that today."

St. Paul's held the 6-foot-5 Abiamiri to 14 points while Hill bugged Gehring relentlessly. Gehring scored 30 points in Thursday's 81-67 semifinal win over St. Mary's.

Gehring, who averaged 20 points for Gilman, hit a three-pointer at the end of the first half to cut the Greyhounds' deficit to 30-22. Hill held Gehring to six points in the second half.

"I always get Gehring, and you have to be physical with him," said Hill, a three-sport standout who is headed to West Point to play football. "And we don't let up because we are in such great shape and can run all day."

St. Paul's offense stopped producing at the start of the second half, scoring three points in the first four minutes. That allowed Gilman to get back in the game, pulling within 37-34 on a three with 1:01 remaining.

Brent Hargest hit a three, Hill made two free throws and Jason Caldwell sank a basket as St. Paul's pushed the lead back to 44-34 at the end of the quarter.

Hill started the fourth by sinking two more free throws and stealing the ball to set up a short jumper by Plack. Suddenly, it was 48-34, and the Crusaders were on the way to celebrating.

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