Atholton underlines its turnaround, 71-53

High-flying Raiders taking opposite path from South Carroll

Boys basketball

High Schools

January 03, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The basketball fortunes of South Carroll and Atholton continued to undergo complete reversals last night at Atholton.

A year ago, the Cavaliers went 22-4, capping the best back-to-back seasons in school history.

Atholton was 3-20 last season and won only nine games in its previous three seasons.

But a No. 20 Raiders team that features an aggressive, man-to-man defense and an unselfish offense improved to 8-0 by defeating South Carroll, 71-53, last night. The Cavaliers, who graduated 6-foot-10 center Josh Boone, fell to 1-6.

Boone, currently at a prep school but committed to Connecticut for next fall, would have helped last night against an aggressive Atholton frontcourt duo of Micah Mbah and Jonas Vaitkus.

Mbah, a 6-2, 220-pound senior forward who led the team in scoring last season, scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Vaitkus, a 6-4 junior forward who transferred from DeMatha this season, scored 13 points and had eight rebounds. Each player also made two outstanding assists.

"Mbah is one of the best inside players we've seen," said Cavaliers first-year coach Greg Mihalko. "This was the most aggressive team we've seen outside of Frederick. They got us in foul trouble early, but we played tremendous - the best we've played for four quarters. We stayed within 10 points most of he way, but couldn't make that final push."

Although Mbah and his teammates knew South Carroll was struggling, the Raiders didn't take the Cavaliers lightly.

"You can't go into any game thinking it's an automatic win," Mbah said. "You have to fight for it."

The Raiders shot their customary 50 percent (8-for-16) from the floor in the first quarter to pull away 18-11. They boosted that to 22-11 in the second quarter before South Carroll, led by Mike Uzzo's shooting, rallied to within 24-20.

Atholton's Kevin Daciek (13 points) hit the last shot of the second quarter, however, and the Cavaliers, hampered by 18 turnovers, allowed the Raiders to gradually pull away again.

"Playing a tough team on the road, we gave it everything we had," Mihalko said. "But they were catching the ball four feet from the basket, and it's tough to defend from there."

Shane Beccio led the Cavaliers with 13 points. Ryan Burns scored 12 and Uzzo 10.

As it has all season, Atholton got to the foul line regularly and with excellent results. The Raiders sank 17 of 23 free throws.

"Jim McQuilkin and Carson Nickell did a good job at point guard for us," said Raiders coach Jim Albert. Atholton had just 10 turnovers.

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