Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

March 14, 2008

Sentinels hoping to go over the top today

A year ago almost to the day, the Fort Hill Sentinels turned plenty of heads and made a giant statement in defeat.

Today they hope to do the same in victory.

The Maryland Class 1A boys basketball state tournament tips off this afternoon at the Comcast Center, where again coach Todd Eirich's West Region champs are only two victories from the school's first basketball state title since 1958.

Last year, likely in one of the more memorable 1A games in tournament history, the Sentinels took 11-time state champion Dunbar to overtime before bowing out, 73-71, in the semifinals. The Poets needed a bucket with three seconds left in regulation to force the overtime, and rallied from a five-point deficit in the extra period.

Dunbar won the game but the Sentinels, with inspired play led by Jordan Brooks, left with a few more fans than they came with that Friday afternoon.

Brooks did just about everything and hit 11 of 20 shots and 9 of 10 free throws for a game-high 35 points before fouling out in overtime.

There's no way, especially after that game, that Brooks and the Sentinels could sneak up on anybody today.

But Surrattsville could. Pay no attention to their record.

Eleven and eleven. And that's after three wins in the South Region tournament.

"Everybody's good at this point. No one gets this far, no one gets to the state tournament as a fluke,'' said Eirich. "We told our kids that, and they understand. Surrattsville plays in a good Prince George's County 2A-3A league, so there's no doubt they're a very good team."

Getting to the state tournament was Fort Hill's pre-season goal. Now the goal changes. The last time Fort Hill won a state tournament game a left-hander named Charles Driesell was in his fourth season as head coach at Maryland, Richard Nixon was in the White House just down the road, and the average price of a gallon of gasoline was 38.8 cents.

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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