If Joppatowne's boys basketball team thought its worst nightmare involved playing run-and-gun Route 40 foes Aberdeen and Edgewood back-to-back, the Mariners found out it could be worse.

Joppatowne, which went into the week undefeated, had to play Aberdeen and Edgewood without its top offensive threat, 6-foot-5 center Kevin Hockaday.

The Mariners lost to Aberdeen, 76-41, Tuesday, and then fell to Edgewood, 55-49, Wednesday as their record dropped to 11-2 overall, 5-2 in the Harford County league.

Hockaday, who had averaged nearly24 points and 16 rebounds a game, went down with a sprained ankle onJan. 24.

Joppatowne coach Mike Bauer said Hockaday would have more X-rays to determine whether he has a hairline fracture and added that he doesn't know when Hockaday might return to the lineup.

In the meantime, Bauer is looking for the rest of the Mariners to pick upthe slack. Although they never recovered from a 14-point first-quarter deficit against Aberdeen, the Mariners did rally late inthe game at Edgewood.

Edgewood (14-1, 7-0) raced out to a 9-0 lead and extended it to 34-15 by halftime. Point guard Maurice Boone, who led the Rams with 13, scored seven of the first nine points.

In the secondhalf, the Mariners slowed the pace and started a comeback. Although they shot just 26 percent from the field through the first three quarters, the Mariners hit 53 percent in the fourth quarter.

The Ramsonly scored two baskets in the third quarter -- both in the first two minutes. Brian Johnson hit four free throws mid

way through the quarter for the Rams' only other scoring.

The Mariners finished off the third quarter with an eight-point run. Terrance Cain hit one of two free throws and then stole the ball for a layup with three secondsleft to cut Edgewood's lead to 42-29.

Cain, who scored a game-high 22 points, continued to lead Joppatowne's rally with eight points in the final quarter. With 3:32 left in the game, the 5-8 senior guard hit a follow shot and a layup to cut the Rams' lead to 46-39. Afterthe teams traded baskets twice, Joppatowne's Kilo Mack hit a pair offree throws to cut the margin to five.

That was the closest the Mariners could get. Steve Lewis (11 points, 10 rebounds) fed Johnson for a layup with 30 seconds to go to give the Rams a 52-45 lead and cut off the rally.

Damon Bomar finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Rams while Johnson also had 11 points. Lawrence Worthington added nine points and 12 rebounds.

The Mariners used the triangle-and-two defense to upset the Rams' teamwork in the second half. They also got a good performance from 6-6 junior center Trent Nichols,who came off the bench in the second half to score four points and grab seven rebounds.

Despite a 107-76 victory over Fallston on Tuesday, the Rams are getting a reputation for being a first-half team. Earlier in the season, they had a 29-point lead on Aberdeen, but onlymanaged to win by three.

"We just haven't learn to hold onto a big lead yet," said Lewis, who scored 29 against Fallston. "It's toughto keep going blowing them out. When we get a lead, we sleep a little."

Since Wednesday's Joppatowne-Edgewood meeting had been rescheduled from a snowy Jan. 11, the Mariners will face Edgewood again this Friday night.

Bauer said he is certain Hockaday won't be back for that contest, but he hopes the rest of the team can continue to make up for his absence.

"I told the kids they can't sit around andwait for Kevin," said Bauer. "He may not get better. They can play without him, but they're having a hard time getting that through theirheads. If nothing else that second half (against Edgewood) ought to tell them."

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