Using a tenacious defense, including a full-court press, the Aberdeen Braves took a 72-48 championship victory Monday over the JoppatownePistons in the Harford Boys Summer Basketball League.

Although the Braves held a narrow 29-26 lead at halftime in the game at Havre deGrace High School, the second half was all Aberdeen.

Joppatowne's Germaine Head scored 14 second-half points, including two three-pointers, but it wasn't enough to match the hot shooting of Demont Blackmon. He scored four three-pointers and a game-high 23 points for the Braves. He also went 5-for-5 from the foul line.

Bill Griffin added 15 points for Aberdeen, which used a 20-4 run to go from a 42-38 lead with 8 minutes, 55 seconds left to a 62-42 bulge with 4:01 remaining.

Pete Collier added six points, Mike Harris had five and Chuck Hunter added two for the Pistons.

The Braves' Tito Coley scored 14 points, and Greg Porter added seven. Hosea Edwards and Richard Johnson contributed four points each.

Demetrius Harris, who scored five points, was named the tournament's Most Improved Player.

Aberdeen coach Troy Barnes, named Coach of the Year, said he thought his team would contend for the championship from day one, noting the team's strong performance last year in the regionals and the high number of returning players. Defense was the key to the team's victory, he said.

The Braves were undefeated during the 10-game season. Joppatowne was undefeated last year, but coach Bill Hunter said his team exceeded expectations by making it to the final this season.

"What I saw our kids doing was developing a sense of teamwork, working with each other, working on each other's strengths, passing the ball, developing skills other than just one-on-one offensive skills,"he said.

"They were learning team-concept basketball and feeling good about themselves as basketball players because the team came together and ended up being where nobody expected them to be."

The off-season league consists of varsity and junior varsity players representing county high schools.

When the Harford Parks and Recreation Council began the summer league 17 years ago, it wanted to create an arena where players could gain more experience during the off-season.

The working idea was to teach basketball players to develop team-oriented goals through strong coaching. Without the league, players would be confined to outdoor pick-up games, where coaching is non-existent. In fact, the players often spend more time arguing calls than playing ball.

For at least part of the summer, the league gets young athletes off the streets and into the gyms.

"The boys need to play organized, officiated basketball," said Hunter.

Said the Braves' Griffin, "It's really getting experience, just matching your skillsagainst other people in the county." Griffin particularly has concentrated on improving his jumping and rebounding skills.

The league also offers a few leads on what to expect in the fall high school basketball season.

Lead No 1: Aberdeen will be tough to beat. Returnees Blackmon, Griffin, Harris and Coley have the speed, shooting, and high-pressure defense to worry any team.

Lead No. 2: Joppatowne will benefit greatly with the addition of Daryll Turner, a transfer from Glen Mills (Pa.) High School's state championship team. He will have a tough assignment, filling the shoes of Kevin Hockaday, Kilo Mack and B.J. Barnes, all lost to graduation.

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