Arundel earns first trip to Cole in 20 years 4A EAST BOYS


The "ghost of Gambrills" might have inspired No. 6 Arundel (21-3) as the Wildcats won their first region title in 20 years, 85-74, over Northern (21-3) of Calvert County.

Playing in front of the largest crowd (more than the 1,100 capacity) to watch a basketball game at Arundel, the Wildcats took the 4A East Region over the second-seeded Patriots to earn a trip to Cole Field House. The Wildcats are likely to play Thursday in their first final four since 1975.

"I took the kids upstairs to the old gym before the game and told zTC them to look around, because this is where Arundel last was a region [1975] and state champion [1965]," said sixth-year Wildcats coach Gerald Moore (73-64).

"The lights were on the old clock. We could see Arundel and Visitor up there. I guess the janitor made a mistake and turned it on, but it might have been a ghost, too. The kids got real quiet and it felt like somebody else was in there with us."

It was a motivational moment that inspired Arundel to go out and play possibly its best game.

"I told the kids upstairs that now's the time to play your best game of the season, something we had yet to do," said Moore. "This is the time to peak."

Despite a bad left ankle, Bakari Ward led four Wildcats in double figures with 24 points. Kevin Higgins scored 22, and Marquise Farmer and Mitchell Martin each had 14 as Arundel made 17 of 26 free throws in the final period.

"I injured my ankle in the first period of the Calvert game [83-77, overtime] on Wednesday and was on crutches [Thursday]," said Ward, who was taped up well by trainer Sue Payne. "It bothered me a little and didn't really hurt until halftime, but I had to play this one. We've come too far not to play."

Ward (six assists) hit nine of 12 from the line in the final period. Northern had a 16-13 lead after the first period, but Arundel took a 32-27 advantage going to the break.

The second period featured Higgins (five steals, three assists) scoring 12 of his points, and Farmer (14 rebounds, six blocks) scoring four with seven rebounds.

Jerome Adams, who led the Patriots with 30 points, hit three three-pointers and 13 points in the third period as Northern closed the gap to 55-54 going into the final period.

Ignited by a Higgins three-pointer from the corner, two free throws by Ward and another Higgins field goal, Arundel built a 62-54 lead and the parade to the foul line was on.

Northern never got closer than six points down the stretch, the last time at 78-72 with 49 seconds left, but Higgins stole the ball twice to thwart any Northern comeback hope.

"This is for the kids to remember and never forget," said Moore. "It's about the Jeff Hedricks, Rich Abrams and many others who played here while we were struggling to build something. We hope to represent Anne Arundel County well at Cole."

Arundel will make its eighth appearance in the final four, the first coming in 1953. Besides the '65 state title, the Wildcats were a finalist in '53.

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