McNamara grad and former George Mason University player Rashad Whack, a junior guard, will lead fifth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s (18-13) into the final at third-seeded Long Island-Brooklyn (19-13), where Springbrook grad Jamal Olasewere, a senior forward, is the NEC player of the year.
The Mount, on a nine-game winning streak, is trying to become the first NEC team to win the championship by prevailing in three tournament road games.
LIU is trying to become the first team in the 32-year history of the league to win three consecutive NEC titles.
Whack scored 26 points in a semifinal win at top-seeded Robert Morris and 19 in the quarterfinals against Bryant. He has 80 three-pointers, leads the Mountaineers in scoring and is second in rebounding. His 2.1 steals per game have helped his team post the best turnover margin, plus-3.94, in the conference.
Mount senior forward Raven Barber, a Paul VI Catholic grad, scored 14 points in the quarterfinal win, nine points over his season average. Freshman forward Gregory Graves, from Potomac Falls, has played in 23 games.
At LIU, Olasewere is third in the conference in scoring and fourth in rebounding and is his school’s all-time leading scorer. At the end of the regular season he ranked second nationally in free-throw attempts with 253, 12 behind Virginia Tech‘s Erick Green, a Paul VI grad.
Olasewere is not the only former Springbrook standout at LIU. Senior guard C.J. Garner was a third-team all-conference pick and is averaging 27.6 points in his last three games. The pair helped Springbrook win the 2008 Maryland 4A title, a game the Blue Devils trailed by 18 late in the third quarter. Olasewere, a year younger, won another in 2009, and was named All-Met.
The Blackbirds have won 14 of 17 despite losing senior forward Julian Boyd, the reigning NEC player of the year, to a season-ending knee injury in December.