A trio of veterans propelled the Gilman basketball team Sunday to the program's third Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship.
Seniors Cyrus Jones and Ryan Ripken and junior Ben Grace all took turns stepping up at opportune times, helping the Greyhounds to a 69-62 win over St. Vincent Pallotti at UMBC's RAC Arena.
Jones scored a game-high 22 points, Ripken added 21 and Grace finished with 17 to help make sure the Greyhounds stayed a step ahead of Pallotti throughout the game. Gilman, which won consecutive titles in 2004 and 2005, finished the season with a 21-6 mark. The Panthers, who got a team-high 13 point from senior William Lyle, finished 24-7.
"This is a great feeling right now -- a great way to close out my four years," said Jones, who is set to play football at Alabama this fall. "And to do it in front of my friends and family is the best thing. I guess I got two championships this year -- one in football and one in basketball, so I can't ask for anything more. I'm just thankful right now and ready to celebrate."
After the Panthers made a run late in the second quarter to cut Gilman's halftime lead to 33-29, the Greyhounds were able to add to the lead with Jones, Ripken and Grace providing all 15 of Gilman's third-quarter points to take a 48-40 advantage into the fourth quarter. When the Panthers made another run to start the fourth, a basket and two free throws from senior Jamar White cutting the Gilman lead to 50-46 with 5:56 left, the Greyhounds scored the next nine points to pull away. Grace started the run with a 3-pointer 11 seconds after White's free throws to restore order. Gilman made 12 of 16 free throws before Jones capped the win with an emphatic dunk with five seconds left.
"In the locker room [at the half], we talked about playing within ourselves, playing our game, and that we had 16 minutes left, so play as hard as you could, give it all out there and that's what we did," said Ripken, who also had a key steal and assist in the fourth quarter. "We didn't want to leave anything behind, no regrets and we just stuck together and played together to get the win."
Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships
Gilman 69, Pallotti 62
P – Lyle 13, Scott 11, White 9, Reed 8, Holland 7, Smith 3, Burnett 5, Bright 4, Owens 2.
G – Jones 22, Ripken 21, Grace 17, McBride 5, Montgomery 2, Matthai 2.
Half: G, 32-29.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun