Defending champs fall in Hoop-It-Up finals


Defending Top Gun champions, Villa Maria of the men's division and Footlocker Three on the women's side, battled through the losers' bracket into the championship games of Baltimore's Hoop-It-Up at Camden Yards yesterday.

That's where they met some Top Gun newcomers.

The men's Footlocker squad and Peace -- both in their first Top Gun tournament in Baltimore -- upset the defending champions and left Parking Lot C undefeated.

Footlocker and Peace will represent Baltimore in the Hoop-It-Up regional tournament in Washington on Sept. 10-12. The two top teams in the regionals will advance to the nationals in Dallas on Oct. 29-31.

The Footlocker men edged Villa Maria, 10-8, in a game shortened 15 minutes because of television coverage. Marty Johnson, Villa Maria's team captain, back-rimmed a two-point shot in the final seconds after scoring two two-pointers in regulation.

"If they had beaten us by getting the 16 points or after the normal 30-minute game, then I would have called them the champs," said Johnson, who formerly played for Towson State.

Event manager Lawrence Dvorchick said: "If you want to get on TV, you got to do it. Everybody knows we have to shorten the games to get X amount of games in."

Footlocker spread the offense around. Alex Watson (Mount St. Joseph, Mount St. Mary's), Reggie Truitt (UMBC) and Jerry Copeland (Nicholls State in Louisiana) each had three points.

Footlocker led 6-2 after Truitt fed Watson for a two-handed jam.

Because Hoop-It-Up is a double-elimination tournament, Villa Maria would have had to beat the undefeated Footlocker squad twice to repeat as champion. Villa Maria's previous loss came in the first round to Red Roses, but they avenged that with a 16-11 win over Red Roses in the semifinals.

Villa Maria did not leave Hoop-It-Up without a victory as Glenn Stanley (Douglass), a last-minute addition to the team on Saturday, won the slam-dunk contest.

Peace, which includes Vanessa and Bridget Blair, Stephanie Walker and Renee Dennis, broke Footlocker Three's eight-game winning streak in Baltimore with a 16-11 victory in yesterday's quarterfinals to place Footlocker Three into the losers' bracket. Each team won its respective games to gain a rematch in the championship.

Vanessa Blair (Mount St. Mary's) led Peace to a 16-10 victory in the final with game highs of nine points and 10 rebounds. Her two-point bank shot from the top of the key closed out the game.

Vanessa Blair scored her first seven points inside as she battled Footlocker Three's Angela Jones (UMBC) down low. She had missed all three of her long-range attempts before hitting the game-winning shot.

"When I played at Mount St. Mary's, I primarily played inside," Blair said. "But when I was overseas [in Sweden last winter], I played inside and outside to improve my game. So I was not too shy to pull up for that last one."

Dennis came off the bench to spark Peace with four points, scoring on forceful drives to the basket.

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