The sweetest words a basketball coach can tell a jump shooter are "you have the green light."

At Coolidge, Coach Len Farello has given all three of his guards -- seniors Charles Hatcher and Clenteous McCoy and junior Anthony Riley -- a free rein to shoot because Farello says "they can all really shoot the basketball."

None of the three has disappointed, consistently shooting well in the clutch and taking the burden off 6-foot-10 all-America candidate Donald Hodge. The effective inside-outside combination has enabled the second-ranked Colts to compile a school-record 27-2 record and their second Interhigh League championship in three years.

Coolidge will face third-ranked DeMatha (26-3), the Metro Conference winner, in the city title game Sunday at Cole Field House at 4 p.m.

It is the matchup for which many hoped from the start of the season. Coolidge, which dedicated its season to long-time coach Frank Williams who died of a brain tumor in June, proved it was the superior team in the tough Interhigh League with a 56-55 come-from-behind victory over Spingarn in the league tournament championship game Wednesday night. It was the Colts' third victory this season over second-place Spingarn.

"We came from 16 down to win the game, and they say the mark of a good team is to have the ability to come back," said the 5-foot-11 McCoy, who made a 25-footer at the buzzer to beat Spingarn. "It was definitely a confidence builder for us going into the game."

If McCoy, Riley and Hatcher take a liking to the three-point line Sunday, the Colts won't worry about trailing. All three perimeter players have been successful from three-point range. And the major reason Farello isn't concerned about the threesome competing for shots or forgetting about Hodge is their unselfish attitude.

"My job is to keep us under control and get the ball to everyone, not to shoot all the time," McCoy said. "If I'm not doing that, I'm not doing my job. Someone is going to score, whether it's Donald inside or one of us outside."

Said Hatcher: "We don't go into any games thinking, 'It's my turn to shoot, your turn to shoot.' But when a shooter makes his first one, he feels it's going to be his day. All of us are good shooters and we take the shot when it's open. It's a good feeling to know you miss a few and {you don't have to} look over your shoulder."

Coolidge, which suffered its only two losses in the Las Vegas Classic in December, takes advantage of its quickness and relies on its fast breaking offense. But like so many teams that play at breakneck speed, Coolidge often gets out of synch.

"Any team that runs as much as we do will have turnovers," Farello said. "But I've been very pleased with our guards. Everyone knew about Donald but we moved Clent to point guard, Charles and his twin brother Carl transferred here from Ireton and Anthony developed into a class shooter. We want them to shoot the ball to take pressure off Donald and stop {the opposition} from sagging back. Our first priority is {to} go inside but my guards have the green light to shoot."

McCoy (9.0 points, 7.0 assists per game) is a fine ballhandler with good range; the 6-3 Hatcher (14 points) relies on his jumping ability to launch soft, high-arching shots, and the 6-4 Riley (9.0) is the long-range threat, once making seven of nine three-point attempts in a game.

"I felt we'd be successful but I didn't think we would achieve anything close to this level," Farello said. "Finding a good backcourt was the key."