No. 1 Patriots have Cadets' number again

January 13, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

FREDERICK, Md. - No. 1 Thomas Johnson received its stiffest challenge of the season against gritty No. 6 Frederick on Friday night, and the end result was the same it has been since 1992 - a Patriots victory.

TJ knocked off the Cadets with a fourth-quarter effort, 59-51, in front of more than 1,000 fans to reach the midway point unscathed. But it did not come without a big scare from the Cadets in what was suddenly a fierce city battle.

Remaining atop the Central Maryland Conference, the Patriots (11-0, 7-0) watched Frederick (7-4, 3-3) rally from a 13-point deficit, 37-24, with 5:24 to play in the third quarter to take a 43-42 lead with 6:21 left in the game.


Down 42-39 after three quarters, the Cadets worked off two TJ turnovers for baskets by Elyon Bush and Curtis Crews, before Luke Ledyard got the lead back for the Patriots on a twisting reverse along the baseline.

Dominique Smallwood followed with a basket, and TJ finished on a 15-5 run to close out the game. The run included a 3-pointer by Thomas Richard and 6 of 9 shooting from the foul line down the stretch.

The win marked the 21st consecutive TJ victory over Frederick, which has not won since the 1992 season. The Patriots hold 37 wins in the last 39 meetings.

"We knew Frederick was a good team and it was good to get a test like this," TJ coach Tom Dickman said. "We made some mistakes on offense and their defensive pressure had a lot to do with that. I give them credit."

The Patriots' Demetrius Bryant led the way with 20 points, all from the field on 10 of 15 shooting. Afterward, Bryant waxed philosophic.

"There was the usual trash talking out there and a lot of contact," Bryant said. "But in the end we saw there were other players on this team that can step it up and play."

One he was referring to was Smallwood, a senior who returned to Thomas Johnson this year after having been at Montrose Christian. Coming off the bench early in the second quarter with the Patriots behind, 16-12, Smallwood ignited a 25-8 run with all seven of his points and good floor play.

"This is my first year back here and I loved the atmosphere tonight," Smallwood said. "Coach said to be smart and run the offense when I got in there. As a player, it is how you can affect the game, and that's my job."

After shooting only 22 percent in the first half (6 of 28), Frederick used a 15-4 in the third quarter to get back into the game. Crews and Elliott Middleton each had five points in the run.

"We have the people that can play this game," said Shackleford. "It's a testament to these players, to be down by so much, to not quit. They got back up.

"We missed early shots and some layups in the first half and then those started to drop," Shackleford said. "I can't complain. Our shot selection was good and the kids responded. I liked the team effort."

After Bryant, junior point guard Drew Gaeng was next in scoring with 11 points for TJ. Richard (eight points) and Ledyard (seven) were not particularly effective scoring. However, Richard got 10 rebounds as the Patriots held a slim 37-35 advantage on the boards.

Crews had 19 points and seven rebounds, while Middleton had 12 points and six rebounds for the Cadets.

No. 1 Thomas Johnson 59 - No. 6 Frederick 51


Middleton 12, Wiley 2, Bush 8, Holloman 4, MacIntyre 3, Crews 19, Davis 3. Totals 18-57 13-18 51.


Gaeng 11, Jackson 1, Edmunds 1, Smallwood 7, Richard 8, Bryant 20, Ledyard 8, Fast 3. Totals 22-56 13-19 59.

Frederick 12 10 17 12 - 51

Thomas Johnson 10 19 13 17 - 59

Three-point goals-Frederick 2 (McIntyre, Crews), Thomas Johnson 2 (Smallwood, Richard). Fouled out-Bryant (TJ). JV-Thomas Johnson, 76-50 (TJ: Luther Weeden 23, F: Paul Smith 19).

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