Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

January 21, 2008

Learn to like it and the wins will follow

Here's the dirty little secret about defense: Nobody really likes to play it.

But the ones who play it best are the ones who become the best, regardless of the sport or the level on which it's played.

It's a difficult sell job. Everyone dreams of making the big shot at the buzzer. No one dreams about making the big defensive stop, or taking the charge or grabbing the rebound as time expires.

So chalk one up for Todd Eirich at Fort Hill. The Sentinels are playing great defense and, not coincidentally, are 10-0, after limiting Allegany to 15 first-half points and 39 for the game in an 18-point victory Friday.

"The biggest key was us playing defense,'' said Jordan Brooks, who scored a game-high 25 points on the other end of the court. "Playing defense and boxing out were the most important things."

Darren Graham, who had 12 big points in the second half, agreed.

"This was a very big game and we really needed that win,'' he said. "The key was we played good defense. We could've rebounded a bit better, but we did a pretty good job rebounding, too."

Fort Hill has allowed 50 or fewer points in six of its 10 games, and is allowing an average of only 45 per game.

The 57-39 win, which guaranteed the Sentinels of a share of the City League title for the third year in a row, was Fort Hill's third in a row at Allegany.

It was also the 19th straight regular-season win for Fort Hill, which is 33-3 the last two seasons.

The big-play capability of Brooks, the area player of the year last season, was evident all evening as he had 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. He got the Sentinels' offense going early with 11 first-quarter points, and his jumper as time expired gave Fort Hill a 26-15 halftime lead.

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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