Severn first-year coach Wayne Fowler said he wasn't feeling any pressure heading into yesterday's first round of the 20th annual Laker Invitational Tournament at Boys' Latin.
At least he wasn't until his predecessor -- Jim Doyle -- tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he planned on making it three straight L.I.T. titles for the Admirals.
"Then, I felt some pressure," Fowler said laughing.
Who could blame him for feeling the pressure or for laughing? Severn led from start to finish before handing St. Paul's a 75-48 defeat.
"We've played St. Paul's in a lot of tough games over the years and we went after them like we were playing Duke tonight," Fowler said. "We did a lot of little things right and we finally found our perimeter shooting."
The two-time defending tournament champion Admirals (4-1) jumped all over the Crusaders in the early going and took an 18-2 lead following a short jumper by junior Alhamisi Simms (11 points).
St. Paul's coach Rick Collins drew the first of his two technical fouls before his Crusaders scored their first field goal. Then again, a lot could have happened in that span. St. Paul's first basket came off the hands of freshman Justin Singleton with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders (3-2) trailed 23-4 after one quarter and found themselves down 28-9 at one point during the second quarter.
Severn, which benefited early from turnovers and the consistent shooting of Simms, John Vereen and Jay Lonnie Booth, found itself looking over its shoulder in the waning minutes of the first half as the Crusaders closed out the period with a 15-4 run that cut the halftime margin to seven, 33-26.
The Admirals returned the lead to double-digits on a James Carpenter three-pointer with 4:46 left in the third quarter and never looked back.
Vereen finished with a game-high 20 points, followed by Booth with 15 and Carpenter with 13.
Sophomore Chris Berrier was the only Crusader to break into double figures with a team-high 10 points.
"They played tenacious man-to-man defense and they just out-manned us," said Collins, whose starting five featured a freshman and two sophomores. "We're young and inexperienced and Severn did things to make us look inept. I give Severn a lot of credit because they did a super job."
In other games:
* Gilman (3-1) faced little resistance in its first-round test as it defeated winless Curley, 98-48.
Senior guard Jimmy Fields paced the Greyhounds with 17 points, followed by Than'l Badder with 16 and Jason Mersey and Lorne Smith with 11 apiece.
* Friends of Baltimore fell apart in the third quarter and never regained its composure, enabling Sidwell Friends of Washington to coast to a 72-59 victory.
The Quakers, who were outscored 26-12 in the pivotal third period, were led by senior Brian Hamilton (16 points). Sidwell Friends' Rodney Bell led all scorers with 23.
* Boys' Latin slipped into the losers' bracket after being defeated by the Tatnall School Hornets of Wilmington, Del., 47-41.
Scott Adler scored 15 points and J. D. Radebaugh tacked on 13 for the home-standing Lakers.
Gilman will take on Sidwell Friends in today's 6:30 p.m. semifinal followed by Severn and Tatnall in the 8:15 p.m. semifinal matchup. The winners will meet in tomorrow's 2 p.m. championship game.