Opponents cannot afford to be cold from the floor and consistently turn the ball over on a night when Archbishop Spalding's Rudy Gay is as hot as he was last night at Gilman.
Gay did it all in leading the No. 3 Cavaliers to a resounding, 64-45 romp over top-ranked Cardinal Gibbons in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game.
Gay showed the crowd of more than 2,000, the largest ever at Gilman, according to athletic director Tim Holley, why he was named a McDonald's All-American. The smooth, 6-foot-9 senior who is bound for Connecticut had game-high totals of 29 points -- 14 on seven crowd-pleasing dunks -- six blocks, pulled in 10 rebounds and had three steals in a spectacular performance.
The Cavaliers (25-6) came out with Gay delivering a two-handed dunk in the opening seconds and by the end of the first period he had seven points and Spalding a 16-5 lead.
Meanwhile, Gibbons (27-6) shot 2-for-20 from the field and committed five of its 11 first-half turnovers.
By the half, Gay had 19 points, six of his 10 rebounds and four blocks while the Crusaders were 5-for-32 from the field and down 33-12. At the end of the third period, the game was pretty much out of reach, with Spalding up 45-24.
"I wanted to come out here and prove that we can win," said Gay while signing autographs and savoring his first high school championship. "Since I've been at Spalding for two years, I've never proved anything because we never won a championship. We proved tonight that we can win."
The two teams split in the regular season, with each winning at home, Spalding by 71-70 in overtime and Gibbons by 75-60 on Feb. 1, with Gay scoring 28 points in defeat. In three games against Gibbons this season, Gay has scored 85 points.
"Me and Jesse [Brooks] had the eye contact on that first dunk," said Gay, whose final dunk of the night was a whirling effort that gave the Cavaliers a 62-37 lead with just over a minute left in the game.
"This game was real important to me because they beat us the last time we played. Everybody on our team had their hearts in this game and it showed," Gay added. "I play every team the same and if they were scared, then I wanted to keep them scared."
Gibbons was coming off a 60-51 upset of then-No. 1 Mount St. Joseph (25-4) on Saturday in the semifinals, but never found its rhythm last night. Ken Hasbrouck led the Crusaders with 14 points, followed by Leon Williams, who had 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Usually high-scoring Brett Foelber, who was sick during the day, gutted it out but had only three points.
Spalding shot a torrid 26-for-50 (52 percent) from the field to Gibbons' 16-for-56 (29 percent), and Justin Castleberry was behind Gay with 11 points while Brooks and Lawrence Dixon had seven points each.
"It was our best game of the year. Holding them to 45 points is unbelievable," said Spalding coach Mike Glick. "We are 17-0 in games this season when we have held the other team under 60 points."