Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

March 14, 2009

Quick fix needed to reverse state tournament woes

Someday and somehow, it will happen. It’s the waiting that’s the hardest part.

Chalk up another one for Baltimore in its growing high school boys basketball series with Cumberland.

The series now stands at 6-0, including 5-0 in just the last six years. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the numbers are going to keep widening until one of two things happen:

No. 1: Team speed and quickness improve, and quite dramatically, among the Class 1A West Region teams, or;

No. 2: The perfect game is played.

Since No. 2 is next to impossible for any team, it’s No. 1 that’s going to have to be what gets a local team over the hump.

But like height, when it comes to quickness you either have it, or you don’t. And even when one of the local teams have it, it usually pales in comparison to that of the Baltimore, and Eastern Shore, teams.

Digital Harbor had it Friday afternoon, appearing to be a step-and-a-half quicker than Allegany in just about every area. Quick on defense. Quick cutting to the basket and to the boards. Quick on the fast break.

“If we move the ball and play good defensively, we can beat anybody, and we know it,’’ Digital Harbor coach Johnnie Grimes said Friday.

The result was a 64-45 win, followed by a 75-60 victory over Pocomoke in Saturday’s state championship game.

Allegany is 0-5 against Baltimore City schools (0-4 against Dunbar, 0-1 against Digital Harbor) in the state tournament. In all five instances, the Campers lost to the eventual state champion. Three of the Dunbar losses came in championship games (1994, 90-62; 2004, 63-48; and 2006, 68-47).

Fort Hill lost its only game with Dunbar, putting together a near-perfect game but losing in overtime, 73-71, in a semifinal two years ago.

Playing in the state tournament is a huge jump for whoever wins the West Region. Some years it’s a larger jump than others, and this year was one of them.

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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