— COLLEGE PARK
Go to enough high school basketball games, especially in our neck of the woods, and you just might end up seeing everything.
The national record 156-point game by Central’s Marie Boyd in a 163-3 win over Cumberland’s Ursuline Academy in 1924 (missed that one; read about it, though), Paw Paw’s Josh Delawder breaking the West Virginia state scoring record, and the halfcourt buzzer-beater by Southern’s Justine Pagenhardt that won the 2004 region championship game hardly scratch the surface.
The long list of memorable moments grew again Friday just a few minutes after 3 o’clock at the Comcast Center: the Allegany Campers began their state semifinal game against Dunbar in a zone defense, and stayed with it until the final few minutes.
This time really was going to be different against Dunbar. The Campers had lost before by not being able to control tempo, by not being able to match up inside, and by not being able to handle the pressure defense.
Saturday, Dunbar led in points in the paint by just 26-22, and in fastbreak points by only 6-4. It was 20-20 on points off turnovers.
This time, with the zone, the Campers were going to force the Poets to beat them from the outside.
Unfortunately for Allegany, they did. Actually, Derrell Edwards did. His 33 points and seven 3-point goals were too much to overcome in a 67-56 loss.
“Allegany plays man-to-man until the cows come home,’’ Campers coach Tedd Eirich explained to reporters afterward. “But before the blizzard hit we started working on a 2-3 zone. We worked on it a little bit each day in practice, but even though we worked on it for about two months, you can’t make it perfect.”
Eirich was trying to explain how Dunbar was able to pull away a bit in the second half. The reason was simple: the Campers weren’t the only ones in a zone. Edwards was too, scoring 25 of his points after halftime.
“These guys work on man-to-man from the first day they walk in as freshmen to the last day. Sometimes when you’re not used to doing something all the time you have some breakdowns. There were a couple of times when we should have gotten men on him and we didn’t, but sometimes kids make great shots and (Edwards) was doing it for most of the game.”
Allegany’s best defense may be its man-to-man, but its best chance at beating Dunbar was by playing zone. No doubt about it. It helped slow the game down, helped keep the Campers out of foul trouble, and helped them deal with a lack of depth in comparison to the Poets.
Jordan Grady, Dustin Wharton and Casey Roberts played all 32 minutes, and Adam Boor played 31. No way they are able to do that, or do that and be as productive as they were Saturday, playing Dunbar man-to-man. The Poets used 12 players and led in bench points 12-1. The starting fives played to a 55-55 draw.
The zone was the biggest reason the Campers had led throughout the first half and were down by only four (47-43) with seven minutes to go.
No Allegany team has ever had a perfect season. This one was only two games from history.
“What we accomplished this season was really great,’’ said Casey Roberts, one of five senior starters. The others were Wharton, Grady, Boor and Aaron Smith. “It really came down to us missing foul shots and missing a couple of easy ones.”
“We played really hard, and I Ioved playing with these five,’’ Wharton said. “I’ve played with them my entire life, practically.
“We obviously had a lot more confidence this year. These four guys I play with ... you can trust them and what they do, and that really helps your confidence. If you’re not making a few, they’ll make a few and get you going. We really play well off each other.”
Allegany went 45-5 the last two seasons, which is the fifth best two-year span in school history, behind the 1933-34 (51-3), 1993-94 (49-3), 2004-05 (48-5) and 1964-65 (46-5) teams.
“It was a great season. There’s no shame in coming down here and playing that tough of a game and losing,’’ said Grady. “We would have liked to have won. It’s been a great season and I love these guys. It was a heck of a ride and I’m going to miss them all.”
Dunbar won the state championship, its 12th since 1993, by beating Owings Mills 64-53 on Saturday. Edwards, who couldn’t miss during the second half against Allegany on Friday, shot 4-for-15 on Saturday and had 13 points.
Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. And sometimes, the sanest thing to do is shrug and try to laugh it off.
This is one of those times for Allegany.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.