Cumberland — Allegany High boys basketball coach Tedd Eirich never had it so easy, Jordan Grady apparently had never been so thirsty, and the Campers fans have never had more time to plan a trip to the state tournament as they did Saturday at Frostburg State.
That all became evident after the first quarter of Alco’s 72-58 win in the Class 1A West Region championship game. It was eerily similar to last year’s championship game, when Allegany throttled Brunswick 77-56 at Frederick Community College.
Allegany was all business from start to finish, dominated both, and never trailed in either.
The performances were so complete that Eirich could afford to sit back and relax a bit more than usual on the sideline. He and his assistants had done their work during the week. Now they watched as the players executed the gameplan to near perfection.
Saturday, Allegany led 14-2 after four minutes, and 32-15 with a minute to go in the half. It was 62-35 early in the fourth quarter.
“The kids wanted this win real bad, and to be 23-0 and headed to Comcast for the state tournament is fantastic,’’ Eirich said afterward.
This Allegany team is just the second to post an undefeated regular season. Eirich (10 years, 194-52) began the year No. 2 in all-time victories behind only the legendary Walter L. “Bill” Bowers (29 years, 566-166). This year’s team has moved Eirich to No. 1 in winning percentage, at .788 compared to Bowers’ .773.
The Campers were hungry for another region championship Saturday. They left Bobcat Arena with another trophy and Grady, no doubt, with some Mountain Dew.
Every missed shot in the first quarter ended up, it seemed, in Grady’s hands. He got the first basket in 30 seconds into the game, then had a tip-in, a putback and an assist in a 90-second span that helped move a 4-0 lead to 11-2.
He had a double-double by halftime, and finished with 19 points and 20 rebounds.
“We have a little thing going on in the locker room that if I get this many rebounds or play really good defense one of my teammates will buy me a Mountain Dew. That kind of fuels me,’’ Grady said with a bit of a chuckle. “If you box out and go up strong to get it, you can get every rebound. That’s kind of how I felt in this game.”
Williamsport never overcame Allegany’s first quarter in a game that was not as close as the final score may indicate. The closest the Wildcats got was 12 in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Casey Roberts led the way in slamming the door, scoring 13 points in the period, and 20 of his game-high 35 in the second half.
Roberts said this year’s team heads to the state tournament with more confidence than last year’s, which lost to Digital Harbor 66-45 in the semifinals.
“We were confident, all the way from Day 1,’’ Roberts said of getting back to the state tournament. “We knew we were going to make it back, and we knew we were going to do whatever we had to do to accomplish that goal. We’re excited to get back there and prove ourselves again. Last year was kind of a disappointment.”
Last year, the Campers had a poor first half and never recovered against Digital Harbor. Grady believes this year will be different.
“We’re senior dominated this year. Last year we were junior dominated,’’ he said. “Whoever we play, we know they’re going to be tough. If we go down there and play our game, we’ll be fine.”
The first-round opponent is playoff nemesis Dunbar, which has beaten Allegany in all four meetings, including the state championship games in 1994 and 2006.
“I thought when we played Digital Harbor we played like we were scared in the first half,’’ Eirich said, looking back. “By the time halftime came we realized we could play with that team it was already over. We need to go down there and play from the start this year and be confident. We’re going to go down there and play like we have all year.”
In other words, Just Dew It.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.