Little things win big games.
That statement was more fact than cliche yesterday in Severn, where top-ranked Archbishop Spalding (12-2) outlasted the No. 8 team in the Associated Press state Top 20, St. Maria Goretti (14-2) of Hagerstown, 75-71.
"When you're in a tight game with a big-time team, the little things add up," said Goretti's veteran coach Cokey Robertson (597-336 in 31 seasons.)
The Catholic League opener for the two preseason favorites was played with most of the league's coaches in attendance.
Spalding shot 57 percent (29-for-51) from the field, and Goretti hit 47 percent (30-for-64) of their shots. The difference was at the line, where Spalding stepped it up.
After making only four of 11 free-throw attempts in the first half, Spalding converted 11-of-14 from the line in the second half, slowed down the Gaels' transition game and got a huge contribution off the bench from senior guard James Bowen, who led the victors with 20 points.
Bowen scored 14 of his points in the second half (eight in the third quarter), including a three-pointer and 5-for-7 shooting from the line. Twice in the last minute his free throws gave Spalding five-point leads at 68-63 and 72-67.
The last of several acrobatic dunks by Tremaine Robinson off a pass from point guard Derrick Snowden (eight points, five assists) -- who had blocked a shot before setting up Robinson with 27 seconds left -- gave Spalding a 74-67 lead that was too much for the visitors to overcome.
Five-foot-10 junior Isaac Brooks' 5-0 run to close the first half also was crucial to the Cavaliers' victory.
"That 23 [Robinson] killed us, No. 24 [Bowen] gave them a big lift off the bench and that little guy [Brooks] and his five-point play at the end of the first half was big," said Robertson, whose Gaels defeated Spalding twice last season.
Robinson, a 6-3 junior, had 17 points (seven in the final quarter), five rebounds (all in the second half), two steals and four assists.
After Goretti's Anthony Sowers (five points, four rebounds, three assists) hit a three-pointer to give the Gaels a 32-30 lead with about a minute left before the break, Brooks took control.
After a steal by James Rice (19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals), Brooks stole it right back with 20 seconds left and his fall-away jumper tied the game at 32.
On the subsequent inbounds play, Brooks stole it again and his jumper from the corner at the buzzer gave Spalding a 35-32 halftime lead.
"You never know when a little run like that can be the difference in the game," said Spalding coach Tony Martin. "But that five-point run was a big momentum booster for us."
Prior to the Brooks heroics, the play of 7-foot senior Derrick Goode, who had game-highs of 11 rebounds and five blocks kept the Cavs close.
Goode had 11 of his 15 points in the first half, but frequently found himself alone at the defensive end of the floor until two Gaels would come flying at him.
With Spalding slow to get back on defense, the Gaels brought 6-5 center Brad Runkles up as a release valve and threw over the top.
"Derrick wasn't quick enough to defend a two-on-one break and they took advantage," said Martin.
As a result, Runkles had a game-high 22 points and 6-4 sophomore Rodney Gibson tossed in 14 and led his team with nine rebounds, eight on the offensive end.
The No. 2 St. Mary's girls basketball team's scheduled visit to No. 4 Roland Park yesterday afternoon was postponed due to the poor weather conditions.
The game is rescheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3: 30 p.m.
Pub Date: 1/10/99