Southern comes up short against Central

Bulldogs fall in semifinal, 64-56, after comeback proves too little, too late

Class 2A boys basketball

High schools

March 15, 2003|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- In its biggest game of the season, Southern-Baltimore's inexperience caught up with it and its hopes for a Class 2A state championship were dashed in a 64-56 semifinal loss to Central of Prince George's County at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center.

The Falcons (15-10) advanced to today's 6 p.m. championship game against J.M. Bennett of Wicomico County. James M. Bennett defeated Fort Hill, 51-41, in last night's other semifinal.

With only two seniors on their roster, the Bulldogs (14-9) made several mistakes in the final two minutes of an attempted comeback. Trailing by 12 with under six minutes remaining, Southern pulled to within 54-51 with 2:20 left after a rebound and put-back by junior forward Sean Cox.

Central's Uchenna Nwokorie then sliced through the Bulldogs' defense for a layup and was fouled. His free throw pushed the Falcons' lead to 57-51. The Bulldogs were called for an illegal pick on their next possession, leading to a free throw by Mike Robb with two minutes left and a 58-51 deficit.

Southern, which started all underclassmen, missed chances on its next two possessions and the Falcons secured the game with free throws in the final minute. The Bulldogs shot 18-for-70 from the field in the game and missed 19 free throws.

"We missed too many layups and 19 free throws," said Southern first-year coach Mike Wise. "I commended my kids because they played with a lot of heart. You cannot compensate for experience. I thought any given time, if we could've hit our easy shots, we could've been on the other side of this game."

Nwokorie, a 6-foot-4 forward, led all scorers with 15 points for Central and Terrence Norris added 11 and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Reginald Holmes had 14 points on 4-for-25 shooting and had a game-high 17 rebounds.

Central, which defeated Southern of Anne Arundel in the 2A South region final on March 7, chipped away at the slightly smaller Bulldogs in the third quarter, building a double-digit lead with 6-foot-5 Khadlin Liverman (six points, seven rebounds) controlling the lane.

The Falcons had their biggest advantage at 43-30 late in the third after a basket by Liverman. The Bulldogs got to within 50-47 midway in the final period after a three-pointer by Holmes and layup by Lenny Johnson. Central scored the next four points for a seven-point lead.

S--Holmes 14, Cox 11, Walker 10, Hayes 7, Green 6, Johnson 6, Townes 2. Totals 18 15-34 56. C--Nwokorie 15, Henderson 6, Liverman 6, Spruill 2, Norris 11, Robb 6, Wallace 10, Pickett 2, Luntunpa 6. Totals 18 27-40 64. Half: C, 21-16.

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