By Craig Clary, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:56 AM EDT, March 19, 2012
Four standout prep players with local ties earned trips to the 68-team NCAA basketball tournament, but none of them were fortunate enough to make it to the second week of the tournament.
Brent Arrington, of Mississippi Valley State, made history in the first game of the tournament on March 13 when he became the first Lansdowne High graduate to play in the tournament.
Unfortunately, he also made history when the Delta Devils (21-13) unraveled and lost to Western Kentucky, 59-58, when they coughed up a 16-point lead in the final five minutes.
It was the largest deficit a team has ever overcome in the final five minutes of an NCAA tournament game.
Arrington, a freshman, was a major factor in helping the Delta Devils build the huge lead in the first 35 minutes.
He had seven points and a game-high seven steals, along with four rebounds and two assists.
Former Lansdowne coach Greg Karpers said his performance brought back memories.
His defensive hustle all over the floor disrupted the offensive flow of the Hilltoppers (16-19) and created his own scoring opportunities, but, he only converted 1 of 8 free throws in the second half.
Arrington's jumper made it 51-37 with 5:23 remaining and teammate Cor-J Cox scored a basket with 5:06 left and the Delta Devils had their largest lead of the game, 53-37.
But Arrington fouled out after the Hilltoppers had cut that lead in half with 3:37 left in the game and his defensive presence was sorely missed.
His dream of playing top-seeded Kentucky in the second round ended when the Hilltoppers outscored the Delta Devils 14-5 down the stretch — with Arrington on the bench.
Lansdowne coach Greg Karpers, Arrington's former coach, said his performance brought back memories.
"When he fouled out he had seven steals and he seemed to be all around the ball," Karpers said. "I had flashbacks because that's what he did for us all the time."
Arrington concluded his season averaging 6.8 points per game.
He scored 12 points in the 71-69 win over Texas Southern in the Southwest Athletic Conference championship game.
His three three-pointers in that contest were the most since he made six treys in a 33-point outburst Nov. 20 in a 101-75 loss to the University of North Carolina, the top seed in the Midwest region.
The season also ended for a trio of local stars from the Baltimore Catholic League, including Mount St. Joseph graduates Henry Sims and Eric Atkins and Cardinal Gibbons alumnus Dylon Cormier.
Sims had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds as third-seeded Georgetown (24-9), upended 14th-seeded Belmont (27-8), 74-59, in the first round of the Midwest bracket.
The 6-foot-10 center, who led the Hoyas in assists (3.5) and was second in rebounding (6.2) and third in scoring (11.7), played his final game of his Georgetown career two days later in a 66-63 loss to North Carolina State.
Atkins, the sophomore starting point guard for seventh-seeded Notre Dame (22-12), was on the losing end of a 67-63 loss to 10th-seeded Xavier (23-12) in the first round. He had seven points and three steals.
Atkins led the Irish in assists (4.1) and tied for the team lead in steals (1.3), while averaging 12.1 points a game.
Cormier led 15th-seeded Loyola University Maryland (24-9) against second-seeded Ohio State (29-7) in the East region.
Cormier scored 14 points in the Greyhounds' 78-59 loss to the Buckeyes.
He ended his sophomore season as the second-leading scorer for the Greyhounds (13.4 points per game) and led them in steals (1.6).
Another Gibbons graduate gets postseason reward
Paul Kouvaris, a senior at Division III York College and Catonsville native, played in the 2012 Reese's Division III College All-Star Game on Saturday, March 17 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, VA.
The game was played as part of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship weekend.
Kouvaris, a former teammate of Loyola's Cormier, was named the Capital Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Year and was named first-team All-Middle Atlantic Region by both the NABC and d3hoops.com.
He led the CAC in scoring (16.9 points per game) while averaging a team-high 6.6 rebounds a game.
Kouvaris, who finished his Spartan career 11th on York's all-time scoring list, had 56 points in three victories in the CAC tournament that earned the Spartans a berth to the NCAA Division III tournament where they lost to Franklin & Marshall.