Hopkins takes Pride crown

Blue Jays shut down Salisbury, win bragging rights among area Div. III teams

Johns Hopkins 71 Salisbury 60

November 27, 2006|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Sun

After falling short in last year's final, Johns Hopkins staked an early claim as the state's top Division III men's basketball team by beating Salisbury, 71-60, last night in the Pride of Maryland Tournament championship at Goucher College.

Danny Nawrocki, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored 16 points.

"It was a battle tonight, but we made the right adjustments," Nawrocki said. "Salisbury is a great team, but we played our strengths to their weaknesses. To come up with three wins in this tournament and become the Pride of Maryland champions, we are looking great going into the Centennial Conference. We are really happy with how we are playing right now."

With the win, the Blue Jays are off to their first 5-0 start in 14 years.

After trailing 32-31 at the half, Johns Hopkins took over in the second half, building its biggest lead, 50-36, with 12:29 left after Nawrocki converted a free throw after being fouled on a hard drive to the basket.

The Blue Jays did not allow a basket for a 5:58 stretch midway through the second half, then held off a Salisbury charge.

Salisbury (4-1) shot just 41.4 percent and Sea Gulls coach Steve Holmes said the dry spell in the second half put his team in too deep of a hole. Johns Hopkins also out-rebounded Salisbury, 33-29.

Ray Williams (Fort Meade) led the Sea Gulls with a game-high 26 points. Salisbury reached the championship game by beating Villa Julie, 84-83 in overtime, then McDaniel, 57-53, in the semifinals.

"In the second half, we had that one bad spurt where we lost track a little bit," Holmes said. "They had a nice 12-point run on us and we forced some bad shots. Sometimes, when you exert that much energy to come back, you just don't have enough left to finish it out."

Despite the poor shooting, Salisbury guard Segun Odumeru (18 points) was able to pull the Sea Gulls within five on consecutive baskets with 2:02 left in the game. Johns Hopkins, however, tightened its man-to-man defense, and made four of six free throws in the final 51 seconds to seal the win.

Both teams struggled with turnovers, Salisbury committing 19 and Johns Hopkins giving up 24.

T.J. Valerio and Matt Griffin each had a team-high 18 points for Johns Hopkins, which shot 54.2 percent.

Johns Hopkins coach Bill Nelson said he was pleased with the tournament's turnout, which featured eight of the state's nine Division III teams. Nelson tried to model the Pride of Maryland Tournament after a similar tournament format in New York, where he coached at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Nazareth.

"It got kind of hot in there today, and some of the teams got tired so the shooting suffered a little bit," said Nelson, whose team beat St. Mary's, 78-60, and Goucher, 85-69, to reach the title game. "Most Division III players are heavily recruited. We have some quality players."

SALISBURY-Williams 10-28 3-4 26, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Odumeru 6-12 5-8 18, Gerald 2-6 0-2 4, Menakaya 1-3 0-0 2, Ward 3-5 0-0 6, Rozanski 1-1 0-2 2, Hacke 0-1 0-0 0, Vaitkus 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-58 8-16 60. JOHNS HOPKINS-Kamm 1-3 3-5 5, Beggans 1-3 0-0 3, Valerio 7-10 2-2 18, Nawrocki 6-13 4-4 16, Griffin 7-11 4-5 18, O'Connell 1-3 0-0 2, Armen 1-2 0-0 2, Morley 0-0 0-0 0, Roach 1-1 0-0 2, Polster 1-2 2-4 5. Totals 26-48 15-20 71. Half: Salisbury, 32-31. Rebounds: S 29 (Menakaya 5); JH 33 (Nawrocki 7). Assists: S 6 (Ward, Williams 2); JH 16 (Nawrocki 5). A: 490.

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