Spalding wins opener as Gay shines 58-51

Posted by Michael Glick on Dec 09 2003 at 04:00PM PST
By BILL WAGNER Staff Writer Maryland Capital Gazette For Rudy Gay and his Spalding teammates, it was nice to focus on just playing a basketball game. So much attention had been given to Gay's summer-long recruitment and subsequent fall signing with Connecticut, it threatened to obscure the fact he's a 17-year-old trying to enjoy his senior season of high school. Gay's dramatic rise to likely McDonald's All-American and NBA prospect has overshadowed the other Spalding players, many of whom are quite talented in their own right. Gay proved he's every bit as good as the hype, while Spalding showed it's a team and not just a superstar with supporting cast in edging Woodlawn, 58-51, last night in the season opener for both teams. Despite double- and triple-teaming throughout, Gay scored 21 points on a mixture of jumpers, dunks and free throws. The long-armed 6-foot-8 leaper was a real stat sheet stuffer with 13 rebounds, six blocked shots, four steals and three assists. The bouncy, high-flying athlete threw down three dunks - a pair of emphatic two-handers off offensive rebounds and a spectacular one-handed tomahawk following a steal in the backcourt. Yet Gay wasn't the sole reason Spalding rallied from an eight-point third quarter deficit. Junior guard Marquis Sullivan, a seldom-used reserve last season, showed he is ready to assume a more significant role by scoring 16 points. Senior point guard Jesse Brooks battled a severely sprained ankle to score nine points and provide floor leadership. DeMatha transfer Justin Castleberry had a decent debut with nine points and played some hard-nosed defense. "We know Rudy is going to get a lot of defensive attention. When teams double Rudy, it leaves the rest of us open. We need to knock down our shots," said Sullivan, who used his speed and quickness to break down defenders and get to the basket. Power forward Jason Goode - a Division I football prospect as a 230-pound defensive end - scored 16 points to lead Woodlawn, which grabbed control from the outset and led for most of three quarters. A four-point play by guard Keith Mallory helped the visiting Warriors build an eight-point lead early in the third quarter. Gay ignited his team with the steal and dunk and wound up scoring seven points down the stretch to help the Cavaliers forge a 43-43 tie entering the final quarter. Sullivan stepped up in the final period, finishing a pair of fastbreaks and beating his man off the dribble during a semi-stall for another layup. Gay jammed home an offensive rebound, blocked a shot and dished off two assists during a 9-2 run that gave Spalding a 52-45 lead with 3:21 left in the game. "I thought the key player was Marquis Sullivan. He came off the bench and gave us a huge lift, both offensively and defensively," Glick said. "I also thought our sophomore, Johann Jones, stepped up strong. I was proud of how resilient our guys were." Glick knew his squad, ranked No. 3 in the Baltimore metro area, had dodged a bullet. He had high praise for Woodlawn, which is loaded with athletes and has the look of a Class 4A state championship contender. "We wanted to come out and match their intensity and emotion ... I thought we did that and were able to stay in the game until the fourth quarter," Woodlawn coach Eddie Green said. "We had the lead, had Spalding right where we wanted. I'm disappointed we weren't able to finish it off." Spalding showed some rust, the result of not being able to play in a season-opening tournament due to the weekend snowstorm. "In 11 years of coaching, I've never had such a long preseason," Glick said. "Our guys were very anxious to play. I could tell they all had a lot of butterflies." Gay's selection of Connecticut over Maryland produced a firestorm of controversy and media scrutiny unwanted by either the player or the program. Glick had grown so tired of answering questions about Gay's recruitment that his usual refrain had become: "I just want to coach my team." The fifth-year Spalding coach was reluctant to address the topic again last night, even when asked the rather benign question about whether it was nice to put the recruiting issues behind and get down to the business of playing games. "You work hard in the off-season in order to be able to play well in the games. It was great to get out there and show that all the hard work has paid off," Glick said. It was obvious last night from the way he soared high over others on the court for rebounds, dunks and blocks that Gay is a rare talent. Green believes the blue-chipper's presence is felt more on the defensive end through the threat of blocked shots. "Every time you go to the rack, you think about Rudy. That's how he changes the game," Green said. Woodlawn (0-1) 18 10 15 8 _51 Spalding (1-0) 11 16 16 15 _48Woodlawn (51) Brown 3 3-4 9, Mallory 1(1) 4-5 7, Carr 4 0-0 8, Goode 6 4-4 16, Fuller 5(1) 0-0 11. TOTALS: 19(2) 11-13 51. Spalding (58) Gay 6(2) 7-10 21, Brooks 4(1) 0-0 9, Castleberry 2 5-6 9, Galinat 0 1-2 1, Cornell 1 0-0 2, Sullivan 7(2) 0-0 16. TOTALS: 20(5) 13-18 58. Published December 10, 2003, The Capital, Annapolis, Md. Copyright © 2003 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.


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