COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND --Gwynn Park High School (24-2) was in a dogfight with South Carroll HS in the first semifinal of the Maryland State 3A tournament Thursday afternoon at Cole Field House on the University of Maryland's campus.
Then the second half started and the Yellow Jackets, behind the strong play of senior guards Darrick Sesker and Louis Hinnant (Boston College), moved on to a 64-36 victory over the Cavaliers and a Saturday matchup for the section championship with Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School, the Baltimore Sun's number one team.
When one thinks of South Carroll, the absence of Indiana-signee Marshall Strickland comes to mind. But Coach Jim Carnes squad was more than this missing talent. For one thing, 6-9 big man Josh Boone's play had led the squad to 20-5 record and eighth place in the Sun's ranking.
But Gwynn Park had the answer when they emerged from the tunnel.
The score at halftime was 23-19, favor of Gwynn Park, the number three team in the most recent Washington Post poll. After the break, Head Coach Steve Mathews switched to a man-to-man defense. The increased defensive intensity helped get the fires moving as the Yellow Jackets grabbed a 41-25 lead as the third quarter ended. By that point, the mystery about this game was over.
Today, whenever Boone got the ball, he was double or triple teamed. And unlike their normal game, South Carroll's guards weren't hitting the jumper. Boone, who averaged 20.6 points per game this season, was held to four points but his presence was felt in other aspects of the game. He pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked six shots in the loss.
Sesker led Gwynn Park with 22 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor (9-18) including his shots from behind the arc (2-4). Hinnant added 12 points and tied for the team-high in rebounds with junior strong forward Tariq Bond.
South Carroll's top scorer was 6-3 senior Jimmy Dalgren with nine points; he pulled down 10 rebounds. South Carroll made just two of 14 three-point attempts for 14.3 percent. An off night for the Cavaliers made so to a large degree by Gwynn Park's extra active defense.