Ailing Aberdeen perseveres, deals Bel Air first loss, 60-54

Boys basketball

January 24, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The Bel Air boys basketball team entered last night's showdown with Aberdeen looking to prove that its undefeated start was no fluke.

Aberdeen came in, intent on making a statement of its own.

With two starters out with injuries and leading scorer Phillip Brown held to three points, Aberdeen persevered for a 60-54 victory last night over the No. 14 Bobcats before an overflow crowd in Bel Air.

The Eagles (8-4, 5-0) started the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 53-45 lead, and then held off the pesky Bobcats the rest of the way to take sole possession of first place in the Chesapeake Division of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

Off to its best start in school history, the Bobcats, who got 14 points from Kevin Goines and 13 each from Randy Jones and T.J. Jordan, fell to 12-1 overall, 4-1 in league play.

"All we heard all week was Bel Air this, Bel Air that," said Eagles senior forward Shawn Lewis, who scored a game-high 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. "This was a statement game."

The biggest statement may not have been made to Bel Air, but to the Eagles themselves. The Eagles wanted to prove that they could win without senior point guard Erin Henderson, who sprained his ankle late in Aberdeen's win over C. Milton Wright on Wednesday.

Henderson could miss the rest of the season after re-injuring the ankle he hurt during football season.

"For these guys to come in here without Erin and do what they did, that gives us a lot of confidence," said Aberdeen coach Richard Hart. "We got production from guys that normally don't get big minutes."

Hart was speaking of the trio of Leandre Richardson, Zach Grubb and Marlon Jenifer. Richardson, starting in place of Devron Galloway (jammed thumb), scored 14 points and kept the Eagles afloat early when Bel Air nearly blew the game open with five first-quarter three-pointers.

Grubb, handling the point in Henderson's absence, may have hit the biggest shot, nailing a three-pointer to give Aberdeen a 49-44 lead with 4:35 to play.

That was followed by two straight Jenifer baskets as the Eagles built a 54-44 lead with 2:48 to play.

"We broke down offensively, defensively and mentally," said Bobcats coach Chris Harney, whose team was held without a field goal for 6 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter.

Bel Air pulled to within 56-54 with 11 seconds left on two Jones free throws, but Jenifer (12 points)answered with two free throws of his own.

"Aberdeen is a team," said Jenifer. "We wanted to prove to people that we're still here, still fighting."

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