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Gilman's Matt Tilley is the Baltimore Messenger male athlete of the year

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It would have been difficult for Matt Tilley to script a much better final year than the one that just concluded at Gilman.

Tilley played on the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship football team and his baseball and basketball squads advanced to conference title games.

"I played in a couple of championship games before my senior year," the Baltimore Messenger male athlete of the year said. "But I never thought I was going to play in three as a senior. It was a very special and neat way to go out."

In addition to athletics, Tilley's academics — a 3.7 grade-point average — attracted a number of major colleges. Princeton, Tulane, Georgia Tech, Cornell and William & Mary wanted him to play baseball while Wake Forest, Brown, William & Mary and Princeton recruited him for football, a sport he didn't play until his freshman year at Gilman.

Tilley chose a baseball scholarship to William & Mary in Virginia.

"I love baseball more than I love football," said Tilley, who co-captained the basketball and baseball teams. "I have played baseball my entire life, and I think baseball is what I will have the most success in in my future."

Gilman baseball coach Larry Sheets said Tilley will get even better.

"I think after two or three years at William & Mary, you will see a completely different player," the former Oriole said. "My selling point to William & Mary and other schools was: He is a kid that runs extremely well, is a terrific athlete, plays baseball as well as he does and never really worked at it."

As a senior, Tilley split time between shortstop and left field while working as a closer in the first half of the season for a team that went 25-16 and lost to defending champion Calvert Hall in the conference final.

The three-year starter batted .346, led the Greyhounds in home runs (6) and RBIs (39), scored 27 runs and stole 18 bases.

Tilley had a three-run, three-hit, three-RBI performance in a 10-9 loss to Crosby, of Virginia. He also belted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to lead the Greyhounds to a come-from-behind 9-8 triumph over Mount St. Joseph in the President's Cup.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior also played for the North squad in the 32nd annual Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards on June 4 and earned a spot on Team Maryland, which will compete in the Hartland Classic in Oklahoma from June 17-23.

"His versatility for us was terrific," Sheets said. "We realized his biggest asset was in the outfield running down fly balls."

In basketball, Tilley, a small forward, finished second on the team in blocks and third in rebounds in his first season as a starter.

In the playoffs, he made two clutch three-pointers in the final quarter to help Gilman pull away from St. Paul's in a 49-44 quarterfinal victory.

Tilley also hit three treys in the 62-55 championship game loss to St. Vincent Pallotti.

"He was a gamer and wasn't afraid to take a big shot when it was necessary," Gilman coach Owen Daly said. "He could also step up defensively and get 10 rebounds in a game. He was versatile."

In football, Tilley started at wide receiver and free safety.

He led the Greyhounds in interceptions (7), pass breakups (12) and made 52 tackles. He also played in the Crab Bowl last December, a senior all-star game in which the Baltimore all-stars beat an all-star team from Washington.

Tilley returned a punt 35 yards to spark the winning touchdown drive in a 13-6 victory over New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep and finished with a 70-yard touchdown catch and 50-yard score on a punt in a 34-17 victory over Charlotte Christian, of North Carolina.

But the game that stands out the most to Tilley was Gilman's 20-8 semifinal playoff win over archrival McDonogh in which he picked off two passes inside the Gilman 10-yard line.

His standout senior season impressed college scouts and coaches.

"He had to choose between playing college football and baseball," Gilman defensive coordinator Stan White said. "I thought he was going to play two sports in college. I said to him, 'If baseball doesn't work out, you can always go back to playing football again.' I think he could be a really good college football player. "

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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