Crossland Coach Earl Hawkins knew before last night's Prince George's AA game against Oxon Hill his No. 1-ranked team would have to contend with Clippers high-scoring forward Michael Tate. But Hawkins wasn't about to devise a special defense for Tate.
"We knew he would get his, we just hoped to shut down the other guys," said Hawkins, minutes after his team had defeated the Clippers, 91-66, last night at Oxon Hill. "We don't do that, use special defenses against one player. Let him have his, we believe if we stop the others, we figure we can win the game."
The 6-foot-6 Tate finished with 37, three above his average, but he got little help from his teammates. Because of more than 30 turnovers, the majority of them caused by the hustling Cavaliers, the error-prone Clippers never were able to establish any type of offense.
"Maybe our defense had something to do with that," Hawkins said. "I yell and scream about execution and we try to be consistent. That is the key. We didn't play that well tonight, but we scored when we had to."
Crossland (13-0, 9-0 in AA play) started slowly, but Clippers mistakes enabled the visitors to rev up their fast break. Crossland also dominated the backboards and got a handful of second and third shots that were converted into easy baskets.
Bernard Hunt (22 points) and Paul Hughes (10) each had six points in the opening period as Crossland took a 23-16 lead. Hunt added 10 more points and his teammates, four of whom also scored in double figures, got into the act in the second period as the lead reached 17 points.
Tate, who also had 12 rebounds, tried to keep his team in contention, putting in 25 points. Crossland led at intermission, 48-32.
Oxon Hill (5-8, 3-6) showed a little fire in the opening minutes of the third period, getting back-to-back baskets to make it a 12-point game. But the Clippers quickly reverted to their erring ways and Crossland ran off 11 unanswered points to take a 59-36 lead with five minutes left in the period.
"We didn't get off quick but that's our game, try to take the game away from team's early by getting a abig lead," said Walter Williams, who had seven of his 19 points in the 11-0 run.
Oxon Hill Coach Carrington Smith has seen this act before.
"We have a franchise on turnovers, that has been our problem all season," Smith said. "The kids don't bring to the game what we work on in practice. We have a young team and you expect some mistakes; we just make too many. But the kids don't quit. I won't let them quit."
Smith tried a number of combinations to get help for Tate. Making a variety of shots, Tate accounted for 33 of his team's first 46 points. Despite his effort, his team was still far behind, 67-46, after three quarters.
"We scored when we had to," Hawkins said. "We made our share of turnovers, too; it was that kind of game. We won, but we can play better."