Patriots come up short in 2nd half

Old Mill's 16-game winning streak ends

Walt Whitman 48 Old Mill 44

Boys basketball Class 4A

March 10, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- Old Mill picked a bad time for one of its worst offensive performances of the season.

The Patriots never found a rhythm on offense and couldn't rally when Whitman awoke in the second half. Whitman pulled away and then hung on for a 48-44 victory over No. 7 Old Mill in a Class 4A state semifinal last night at Comcast Center.

The loss ended Old Mill's 16-game winning streak and its season. Old Mill finished 24-3, and Whitman (23-3) advanced to tomorrow's state final against Eleanor Roosevelt. The Patriots also lost in last year's semifinals, to eventual state champion Walbrook.

This was a night when everything went wrong for Old Mill. The Patriots battled early foul trouble, problems with ball-handling and poor shooting from the field (31 percent) and the free-throw line (11-for-21).

"We just never kind of got in the flow of it," Old Mill coach Greg Smith said. "They're very aggressive and very strong [on] defense. Their man-to-man was very stingy. I was impressed with as strong as they were on the man-to-man."

Throughout the game, the Vikings defense harassed Old Mill's top offensive threats including Andrew Engel. He came into the game averaging 15.4 points - but went just 1-for-8 from the field and finished with three points.

Derek Harris (14 points), Greg Brown (12) and Kenny Alford (10) led the Patriots, but they never found consistency.

"We lost the game ourselves," Engel said. "Play bad and [you'll] lose bad. We had too many turnovers."

Old Mill finished with 14 turnovers, mistakes the Vikings were able to turn into points in the second half. Mikey Fitzpatrick and Michael Gruner carried the Whitman offense after a very slow start and combined to score 38 of Whitman's 48 points.

Fitzpatrick scored a game-high 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half as the Vikings took over. Gruner scored 17, carried the team early and helped shut down Engel on defense. Whitman scored only 14 points in the first half but broke the game open with a 22-point third quarter.

The Vikings scored only eight points in the first 15 minutes, and Old Mill held a 16-8 lead with just less than a minute left in the half. But Whitman scored six quick points to cut the halftime lead to two, and that seemed to fire it up.

"We've got guys who can heat up, and we've got guys who can shoot the ball," Whitman coach Chris Lun said.

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