Churchill outmuscled taller Bladenshurg, gaining a 36-30 rebounding edge, and used 29 points by All-Metropolitan forward Eric Smith to upend the Mustangs, 77-63, for the Maryland Class AA basketball championship Saturday night at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.
In Class C play, unbeaten Crisfield notched win No. 27, outscoring Poolesville at the foul line, 27-14, for a 65-58 decision and the state crown.
Churchill not only displayed suprising strength on the backboards - including 10 rebounds by 6-foot-3 forward David Porter - but showed a bit of finesse working inside against Bladensburg's forward tandem of Thuri Baily (6-9). Bryant Thornwell (6-4) and Skip Speaks (6-4). Smith, Porter and guard Jay Dove combined for several back-door plays in grabbing leads of 23-19 after one quarter and 45-34 at the half.
"They were sagging on defense," said Churchill Coach Les Lombardi, now in his fifth year. "So we thought we could work on the weak side for the layup."
Dove, who finished with 15 points, elaborated. "Once we penetrated, their defense would try to double up on the man with the ball, and all we had to do was give the ball to the open man."
Smith, who quarterbacked Churchill to the state Class AA football title last fall, scored 10 points and small forward Richard Spaulding handed out three quick assists in the second quarter to help the Bulldogs lead by as much as 45-30 before settling for their 11-point halftime lead.
Speaks, who finished with 18 points despite making just eight of 22 shots, scored eight points in the third period and Bailey (21 points) added six to bring the Mustangs within seven, 56-49, entering the fourth quarter.
Two Charles Sawyer baskets and a field goal by Bailey closed the gap to 58-55 with 5:30 left, but then the Mustangs were forced to foul to get the ball back. Churchill (19-8) capitalized on Bladensburg's desperate strategy, sinking 13 of 16 free throws - including five by Smith and three by Dove - in the final five minutes to keep Bladensburg (23-2) at least eight points down the rest of the way.
Smith, who made nine of 11 field goal attempts and 11 of 13 foul shots, raised his two-game playoff total to 64 points. Porter finished with 17. Bailey, who had 14 rebounds, had nine of these and 13 points in the first half to keep Bladensburg, which had won 13 in a row, within striking distance.
Jerry Carter scored 24 points and sank five foul shots in the final period to help Crisfield to its fifth state Class C crown in 22 years. The Crabers, who slowed downs the pace in the first half and took a 24-22 edge to the locker room, scored seven straight points in the fourth quarter to extend a 53-52 advantage into a 60-52 lead with three minutes left.
Poolesville (16-10), which was assesed three technical fouls in the second half, hurt its title chances in the final period when high-scoring center Mike Neville collected his fifth foul with 5:26 left. Neville finished with just five points. Rolland Moore led Poolesville with 17 points.