Park ends its 30-year title drought

Down 12 early, Bruins bounce Beth Tfiloh, 46-43

MIAA C Conference boys basketball

March 04, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Park is an experienced team loaded with poise and not prone to panic. The Bruins needed every ounce of their patience last night against Beth Tfiloh.

Noah Northcott-Grant had a double double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, sparked Park's rally from a 12-point first-half deficit and helped the Bruins to a 46-43 victory over Beth Tfiloh in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship game at Villa Julie College.

This was Park's first basketball championship since 1973 and delighted the school's fans who stormed the court and celebrated with the team following the final buzzer.

"They worked so hard," Park coach Josh Wolf said. "This group of boys is so incredibly talented. It's been a long time for Park, and this was the time."

It didn't look that way at first. Beth Tfiloh (14-9) made its first five shots and took a 13-2 lead late in the first quarter. The Warriors expanded the margin to 19-7 with four minutes left in the first half.

But Wolf then had Park (22-5) go to a half-court trap that rattled the Warriors. Beth Tfiloh missed its final seven shots of the first half while the Bruins scored 11 straight and sliced the lead to 19-18 at halftime. Beth Tfiloh center Eli Creeger (13 points) sat out the final three minutes after picking up his second foul, and Park took advantage by going inside and getting points.

"We had to not panic," Northcott-Grant said. "We are a very strong-willed team. We got the momentum early in [the third quarter], broke ahead and it was just a snowball effect."

Northcott-Grant, Irmak Emekdas (11 points) and center Ben Miller (eight points) sparked the Bruins. Park rarely passed the ball inside in the first half but began pounding it down low to Miller as often as possible in the second half.

Emekdas made some clutch baskets as the Bruins slowly pulled away in the second half. In addition, Park shut down the Beth Tfiloh guards and slowed the Warriors offense with tighter defense.

The Bruins got several easy baskets and pulled away to a 43-34 lead with 1:28 left in the game. But Beth Tfiloh rallied one final time, cutting the lead to 45-43 on a Jake Yaster follow-up with 16.5 seconds left.

Northcott-Grant made one of two free throws with 15.3 seconds left, giving the Warriors one final chance to tie the game. But Sam Fuchs (10 points) missed a tough three-pointer from the corner as time ran out, and Park's 30-year wait for a championship had ended.

"I knew they were going to [rally]," Beth Tfiloh coach Adam Klaff said. "But I knew our kids wouldn't give up."

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