There was no room for underdogs or weekend athletes in the Top Gun finals of the Hoop-It-Up three-on-three basketball tournament yesterday at Camden Yards.
Team Bojangles, the men's champion, had 10 years of NBA experience and an average height of 6 feet 5. Three of the four members of Warriorettes Inc., the women's champ, play professionally in Europe, and only point guard Karen Wilkins had not won the Baltimore event.
Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell was a natural to lead a team bearing the name of a fried chicken fast-food chain. The 6-8 Maxwell, age 40, owns two NBA championship rings from his days with the Boston Celtics, yet he still delighted in steamrolling his smaller and less esteemed foes.
"You've got to do what you've got to do," Maxwell said before the finals. "I don't mind banging around a little bit. We're on the warpath."
The NBA veteran was joined by Clifton Whitfield, who played at Winston-Salem State and Wyoming of the Continental Basketball Association; Terry Shriver, who played collegiately at UNC-Wilmington; and Phil Hill, who played professionally in Portugal.
Team Bojangles advances to the Aug. 26-27 regional finals in Washington, and an earlier finals victory in Florida got the team into the Orlando regional. Regional winners go on to the World Final in Hawaii.
Team Bojangles trailed Team Kasoff 12-6 early in the final game, but rallied for a 21-18 win. Maxwell was held to two points, but his presence in the lane forced Team Kasoff to collapse their defense, leaving Shriver and Whitfield open.
"They're big boys," said Chuck Lightening, 10th on Towson State's all-time scoring list. "Cornbread has been killing guys all weekend, and we wouldn't let them beat us inside. There was nothing we could do. I needed five inches and five more years of experience out there."
Team Kasoff included Bill Leonard, whose 366 assists are second all-time at Towson; Jeffrey Robinson, the No. 3 career scorer at Siena College; and former Maryland guard Mitch Kasoff.
Height and experience reigned in the women's bracket as well.
Wilkins' 10 points (all inside) and five rebounds, and the rebounding of Cozette Ballentine led Warriorettes Inc. to a 21-17 finals victory over The Spin Doctors. Wilkins plays professionally in Sweden, Ballentine and Dwuana Lee (former Walbrook High teammates) both play in Israel. Sheronda Palmer came off the bench.
"We had mismatches inside," Wilkins said, "and it was just a matter of time before we took advantage."