Glen Burnie's eighth-ranked Gophers (17-2) gained on two fronts with a 75-71 victory over No. 17 Old Mill (15-4) in a boys basketball game in front of a capacity crowd at Glen Burnie on Friday night.
The Gophers hold first in both the county league (12-1) and the Class 4A East region. They need only one win in their last three games - at Broadneck (13-5), at Northeast (1-15) and home against Severna Park (13-6) - to clinch a berth in the Feb. 26 county championship game.
Old Mill, which has lost to Glen Burnie twice, fell to third in the county at 10-3, while Severna Park a 50-40 winner over Arundel (10-9) Friday, took over sole possession of second place at 11-2.
If Old Mill and Severna Park tie in the standings, the nod will go to the latter because the the Falcons prevailed by 63-58 in the teams' only meeting.
As for the region, Glen Burnie is tied for first with Charles County's Thomas Stone (16-2) at 15-2 each in games that count toward the playoffs.
"A county championship is nice, but we want to go back to the Comcast Center. That's our main goal and it's going to be tough," said coach Mike Rudd who led the Gophers to the state semifinals at the University of Maryland's arena last season.
The top four seeds, based on winning percentage in the regular season, are not thrown into the hopper for the blind draw (to be held Feb. 22), gain first-round byes and possible home-court advantage for the quarterfinals.
Old Mill is third in the region at 13-4, followed by Broadneck at 11-5.
The game between rivals Glen Burnie and Old Mill - played in front of nearly 700 - proceeded without incident, which hasn't always been the case.
Under first-year coach Johnny Williams, Broadneck (13-5) has clinched its first winning season since 1998-99 (16-9). ... Annapolis' 43-34 win over North County on Tuesday was the 567th in coach John Brady's 27 years (567-103), good for second-most wins in state public school history. ... Severna Park's 46-40 victory at Annapolis on Monday was the first for the Falcons in the city since a three-point, region-final win in 1981, when Denny Saylor was the Falcons' head coach, with current athletic director Wayne Mook an assistant. The victory 23 years ago gave the Falcons their first and only berth in the state semifinals. ... Severn (11-4 league) and defending champion St. Mary's (5-11) have qualified for the MIAA B Conference playoffs. Severn will be a third or fourth seed, while the Saints will be a No. 6 seed. ... The MIAA finals are set for Gilman on Feb. 23: C Conference at 4 p.m., B at 6 p.m. and A at 8 p.m.. ... Glen Burnie's Mitch Guest, with 1,225 career points, is closing in on the school record of 1,297 set by Desmond Dailey in 1993-96.
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