Trip to Quarterfinals
State Tourney 2nd Round
Photos: Laurel point guard Jackie Taylor (top) drives for a score, while center Trey Elzey (bottom) battles for a rebound.
SMYRNA -- Someone let the 'Dogs out, and they're really hungry.
After squeaking into the 2002 Delaware state high school boys' basketball tournament as the 22nd seed, Laurel has moved into the state quarterfinals for the first time in its history.
And yet, they were hardly satisfied with that accomplishment after their 74-67 second round victory over No. 6 Archmere at Smyrna on Saturday, March 2.
"I still won't be satisfied until we're the champs," said 6-foot-7 Bulldog center Trey Elzey after a 24-point effort despite picking up his fourth foul late in the third quarter.With eight straight wins, Laurel moves into the quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 5, against No. 3 St. Elizabeth, which defeated Concord 71-61 in another second round contest Saturday. The site and time are still to be determined.
Now 14-10, the Bulldogs will try to play Cinderella again in the quarterfinals. A win there would send them to the state Final Four at the Carpenter Center on Thursday, March 7.
Against Archmere, the Bulldogs' win reflected the kind of season they have had -- streaky.
After opening the 2001-2002 campaign with three straight wins, Laurel slumped to below .500 before rebounding to win the last six games of the regular season and secure the Henlopen Conference Southern Division's runnerup slot in the state tourney.
That in itself could have been accomplishment enough for a group that suffered through a 3-19 record last year.
But, as guard Artie Savage, the only senior on this year's team, put it, "The way I see it now, we won our last six games in the conference and now our first two in the tournament, so I say we can take it all."
Like their season, the Bulldogs played in spurts on Saturday.
Probably still reeling from its heart-stopping 81-77 win over St. Mark's in four overtimes in the first round on Thursday, Feb. 28, Laurel fell behind Archmere 13-4 in the first quarter.
Then head coach B.J. Joseph brought sixth man Patrick Belle off the bench, and Belle responded with a three-pointer to ignite a 7-0 run that brought the Bulldogs within 13-11 with 58 seconds left in the quarter.
The game remained tight after that, with neither team leading by more than 5 points until the Bulldogs ultimately took control in the game's final 1:30.
Tied 64-64 after four lead changes earlier in the fourth period, Laurel began its game-winning charge when Anton Ridley followed in a miss for a 66-64 advantage with 1:32 left.
That basket started a 10-point Bulldog run, fashioned mostly at the fre throw line as Elzey and Savage hit three free throws apiece and Savage sank two more in the final 1:30.
Defense also played a key role in the clinching spurt, with Savage coming up with two steals and point guard Jackie Taylor swiping another.
Besides Elzey, Savage and Taylor hit double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Elzey added 8 rebounds and 6 steals to his point total, while Savage collected 8 steals and Taylor dished out 5 assists.
Archmere was led by 17 points apiece from guard Matt Dugan and center Kevin Hannan. Forward Donnie Roberson contributed 13 more.
Photo: Laurel head coach B.J. Joseph delivers instructions during late timeout.
ARCHMERE (67) -- Tyler Morris 2 0-0 5, Ben Voudouris 0 0-0 0, Mike Blahvech 2 0-0 4, Lee Morris 0 0-0 0, Matt Dugan 6 0-0 17, Adam DiMuzio 4 0-3 8, Kevin Hannan 5 7-17 17, Steve Dellanoce 1 0-0 3, Donnie Roberso 5 3-6 13. TOTALS 25 10-23 67.
LAUREL (74) -- Trey Elzey 7 10-12 24, Anton Ridley 2 0-0 4, Artie Savage 4 3-4 12, Jackie Taylor 4 2-5 11, Troy Elzey 2 2-2 6, Patrick Belle 2 3-4 8, Jimmy Hartstein 1 0-0 3, Antwan Ridley 2 0-0 4, Deron Roberts 1 0-0 2, David Allison 0 0-0 0, William Palmer 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 20-27 74.
Three-point field goals: Laurel 3 (Artie Savage, Jackie Taylor, Patrick Belle); Archmere 7 (Matt Dugan 5, Tyler Morris, Steve Dellanoce).
Laurel head coach B.J. Joseph on point guard Jackie Taylor:
"Jackie has played good the last seven games. I was a point guard and my thing with him ... a lot of people told me he could not be my point guard, but he did."
Joseph on the Bulldogs' victory:
"It was a very intense game. We had our ups and downs. We started off bad. We played no defense in the first half and I yelled at them at halftime. They played defense in the second half."
Joseph on what caused his team's mid-season slump and how the Bulldogs turned things around:
"We won our first three games and then little things threw us off. Guys were sick or were late or missed practice. Now, we're putting it all together and nobody's getting into trouble."
Joseph on his strategy when Elzey went to the bench with his fourth foul with 2:22 left in the third quarter:
"I said I would hold him out until five minutes were left in the game. Antwan (Ridley) did a good job. That's why I can leave Trey out, because Antwan plays good defense."
Laurel center Trey Elzey on the Bulldogs' turnaround in February:
"We got into little arguments but we got it together. We came through big. We got our heads together. We're playing like a team. When we're in our huddle, you probably hear us say, 'Family'. We're like family now. Sometimes we fall apart, but we get it right back together."
Laurel guard Patrick Belle on coming off the bench:
"I like coming off the bench because I can see where the gaps are. Today when we had the ball up top and swung it to Artie's side, they (Auks) were collapsing too far in."
Laurel senior guard Artie Savage on reaching the quarterfinals after last year's 3-19 record:
"For me, being a senior, I thought, 'I can't go out like this, not with last year's 3-19 record'."
Savage on the Bulldogs' turnaround since a loss to Lake Forest on Feb. 5:
"We started listening to coach telling us it's time to buckle down. He said the state tournament was just around the corner. Then certain people came through."
Savage on being the Cinderellas of the tournament as the 22nd seed:
"We wanted to make a run from the bottom (of the field). We wanted to surprise people."
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