Cumberland Times-News

March 15, 2013

Gonzaga takes BW’s best shot

Eagles outlast Spartans, 67-46

Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

— FROSTBURG — Gonzaga was a little nervous coming off a three-week layoff, while Bishop Walsh was in full attack mode from the beginning. And that’s how the night’s third quarterfinal of the 53rd ACIT played out Thursday at Frostburg State University - at least for a little while.

The Spartans (21-8), the host school from Cumberland, came out aggressively and went right at the five-time ACIT champion Eagles (26-4), who became just the third team to go undefeated in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season, and it paid off with a 9-4 lead through four-and-a-half minutes. But then 6-foot-6, 250-pound forward Kris Jenkins, the WCAC Player of the Year, started hitting three-pointers, the first giving the Eagles an 11-9 lead at 2:31 of the first and Gonzaga was on its way to the semifinals with a 67-46 win.

Jenkins, who has committed to Villanova, hit four threes in all — one in the first quarter and three in the second — to finish with 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Gonzaga to tonight’s 7:30 semifinal with Benedictine. Bryant Crawford and Charles Glover both scored eight points as the Eagles led 15-13 after the first quarter.

Center Quincy Redmon led Bishop Walsh with 13 points, while Liam Rhodes scored 10 and Hunter Marrale, who hit a big three-pointer early to give the Spartans their 9-4 lead, finished with eight points.

“We’re coming off a three-week layoff,” said Gonzaga coach Steve Turner, “so I thought we were rusty. But we picked it up. I thought Kris showed senior leadership in hitting some big threes. We moved the ball well and played good defense, which got us baskets in transition.”

It was Jenkins’ three-pointers and transition baskets by Tavon Blackmon and Glover, as well as strong inside offense by Sam Miller, that got the Eagles rolling in the second, as they scored the first 14 points for a 29-13 lead at 2:56 of the half. Rhodes got the Spartans on the board in the quarter with a three-pointer, and Chris Scarlett hit one as well to get BW to within 31-19, with Miller’s baseline score making it 33-19 at the half.

“You’re always nervous coming into a tournament,” said Turner, “because one loss and you’re done, which makes for a long week. Now we’ve got that out of the way and can get ready for a great Benedictine team.”

Even though the Spartans, who will play St. Frances in today’s 4 o’clock consolation semifinal, trailed 54-33 entering the fourth, they battled the Eagles tooth and nail for all 32 minutes.

“We know how good (Gonzaga is),” said BW coach Bob Boyle. “I tried to emphasize the way we played against similar teams, Goretti and Benedictine, this year — ‘You can play; play relaxed.’ But I thought we pressed early on our shots, because had we made some shots ...

“But I couldn’t be prouder of them. They need to relax and have fun the next two games — play the way they’re capable of playing. But we’ve got seven kids, and it’s hard to keep up with the legs. Like I said, we did our best. I couldn’t be prouder. I think our boys represented the area well.”

So, too, does Turner, who, it turns out, is a big BW fan.

“I thought Bishop Walsh did great tonight,” said Turner. “I follow them all year, so I know they had a tremendous year. They shot the ball well and, as always, they played very hard. I thought they did a great job against us.”

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com