Villa Julie is tops in Pride

State men


For at least one year, Villa Julie can call itself the "pride" of Division III basketball in Maryland.

The Mustangs defeated Johns Hopkins, 81-78, in overtime last night to capture the championship of the inaugural Pride of Maryland tournament held over the weekend on the campuses of Johns Hopkins, Goucher and Villa Julie.

In the final at Villa Julie, the Mustangs' Anthony Fitzgerald (Poly) was the major force, scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"We worked hard," said Fitzgerald, who led the entire Division III in rebounding last year with 13.2 per game. "Without the heart and determination as a team, we would not have made it this far."

Hopkins (2-1) held the lead for most of the game, but the Mustangs chipped away and took their first lead since the second possession of the game when Chris Warren hit a three-pointer with two minutes left to make it 66-65.

Villa Julie's Steven Segears took a shot from the free-throw line as time expired and the score tied at 70, but it bounced off the rim. Segears finished the game with 22 points and was named to the All-Tournament team.

In overtime, the Mustangs (3-0) quickly opened a 75-72 lead. However, Matt Griffin tied it at 75 with 2:19 to play after making two free throws. But Villa Julie continued to play up-tempo and was able to maintain a three-point lead most of the rest of the way.

Jonathan Reynolds' free throw with 10 seconds left sealed the win.

"I don't think we ever panicked," Villa Julie coach Brett Adams said. "We were down by as many as seven and that's still a ballgame.

"We work a lot on playing in situations when we're down. This is a team that has a lot of perseverance and a lot of character. They really have a lot of confidence in each other."

Hopkins forward Danny Nawrocki led all scorers with 23 points.

Villa Julie beat Goucher (73-68) and Washington College (100-93 in double overtime) to reach the final. Hopkins defeated Salisbury (76-61) and McDaniel (88-80).

Despite the loss, Hopkins coach Bill Nelson called the tournament a "phenomenal success" and hopes it will be repeated next year.

"I'm from Rochester [N.Y.] and they have a similar tournament there that's now in its 40th year," Nelson said. "I hope we can do this for another 40 years."

Joining Fitzgerald and Segears on the All-Tournament team were Phillip Williams (Villa Julie), T.J. Valerio and Matt Griffin (both of Johns Hopkins), Mike Dipiero (McDaniel) and Kyle Stem (Washington).

Also participating in the tournament were Hood and Frostburg State.

Villa Julie drew 800 spectators for its share of the tournament, which included Saturday's games and last night's final. Hopkins drew 350 for its game on Friday, while Goucher attracted 450 for its two Friday games.

In the consolation game, McDaniel defeated Washington, 91-85. In the fifth-place game, Frostburg beat Hood, 65-63, and in the seventh-place game, Salisbury defeated Goucher, 83-70.

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