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Photo: Brian Polk throws down one last dunk for Ravens' fans.
WOODSIDE -- The end of the Brian Polk Era came much too soon for Sussex Tech boys' basketball fans.
Instead of concluding with a state championship net draped around Polk's neck on Saturday at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center, it ended with Polk congratulating Howard's Carlos Hawkins for a job well done in the state tournament quarterfinals at Polytech on Tuesday, March 7, 2000.
Polk and the third-seeded Ravens lost to No. 6 Howard 67-61 before a sellout crowd to end their season at 22-4 and finish Polk's high school career with 2,056 points including the 35 he scored Tuesday against Howard. The Ravens reached the semifinals last year before losing to eventual state champion William Penn.
Mistakes and Hawkins did the Ravens in, with Hawkins scoring a state tournament single-game record 43 points to lead 19-6 Howard into Thursday night's semifinals at Carpenter Fieldhouse.
Hawkins scored 28 points in the second half and personally made the Ravens pay for every mistake they made. And there were plenty of them -- missed layups and dunks, careless passes, unforced turnovers ...
All of the above turned a 29-22 Tech halftime lead into a 42-38 deficit after three quarters. The most critical mistake -- a technical foul against Tech's L.J. Walston with 52.7 seconds left -- was turned into a four-point play by Hawkins and an insurmountable 64-57 lead.
Hawkins single-handedly turned the game around in the third quarter.
Tech sputtered offensively the entire period including a pair of back-to-back missed dunks by Walston and Polk and numerous turnovers. The Ravens only scored two points on a Polk follow the last four minutes of the quarter and Howard took advantage with Hawkins scoring 10 points in the period's final 1:19 to take the Wildcats from a 36-32 deficit to the 42-38 lead.
During that run, Hawkins threw down two vicious dunks on fast breaks and then closed the quarter out with a pair of three-pointers in the final 22.8 seconds.
The lead grew to 54-48 midway through the fourth quarter before the Ravens began one final charge.
First, Polk hit a followup to make it 54-50 and sank a free throw to make it 54-51. When he missed the second of those free throws, Walston was there for a putback that brought Tech within 55-53 with just over 2 minutes to go.
Hawkins put in a follow shot and drove for a layup and a 59-53 Howard lead, but Polk responded with a pair of free throws and a thunderous fast break dunk off a steal to bring Tech back to within 59-57 and raise the roof of Polytech's standing-room-only gymnasium.
Hawkins hit a foul shot to put Howard up 60-57 with 1:02 left and Polk was called for travelling when he tried to follow a Walston miss and tripped over three Wildcats in the lane.
Just seconds later, as Hawkins stood at the line to shoot a pair of free throws, Walston was called for a technical foul for allegedly uttering a profanity while Hawkins shot. Walston protested to no avail and Hawkins hit the second of his free throws and the two technicals for a 64-57 lead.
Hawkins was then fouled on the next possession resulting from the technical and hit one free throw to give the Wildcats a 65-58 lead with less than 50 seconds to go.
Tynell Tingle was the only other player on either team in double figures with 11 points.
HOWARD (67) -- Jareem Dowling 2 4-5 9, Corey McNeil 4 1-4 9, Ronald Johnson 1 2-2 4, Carlos Hawkins 14 11-16 43, Jameil Dawson 1 0-0 2, Andrew Dorsey 0 0-0 0, Jeff Fisher 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 19-29 67.
SUSSEX TECH (61) -- Brian Polk 12 10-12 35, Michael Hooks 2 0-0 4, L.J. Walston 2 1-6 5, Tynell Tingle 5 0-0 11, Tyray Chandler 2 2-2 6, Shannon Wright 0 0-0 0, Darko Jankovic 0 0-0 0, Chris Hopkins 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 13-20 61.
Three-pointers: Carlos Hawkins 4, Brian Polk, Tynell Tingle.
Photo: Sussex Tech's Brian Polk greets well-wishers after his final game in a Ravens' uniform. Polk is being pursued by Temple, Rutgers and Texas with Temple the apparent leading choice.
Sussex Tech coach Jerry Kobasa on the loss:
"We missed a lot of layups. We had it 55-53 and had the ball and missed two layups with 40 seconds to go. As bad as we played for awhile ... we had a four-minute stretch in that third quarter where they just threw up some shots that were phenomenal. They went in and gave them momentum. I thought the kids came back and fought hard but we did miss some easy, easy shots. You make a couple of those layups and you've got a ballgame. It wasn't meant to be ... I don't know what else to tell you."
Kobasa on the end of the Brian Polk era at Sussex Tech:
"As a coach you don't get too many chances in a lifetime to coach a kid like that. He's been a great kid, never been a problem. He's a tremendous player. He put on a show tonight, but some of the other guys who needed to put on a little bit more with him just didn't get it done."
Kobasa on the last game of seniors Brian Polk, Tyray Chandler, Deshawn Cannon and Robert Smith:
"The thing that's hard is I feel sorry for the seniors on the team because they don't get another chance. That's what hurts more than anything, that those guys don't have another chance. We have some great kids who have been with this program for four years. They came to practice and played hard every day but don't get a lot of playing time. All they did was work hard. That's what hurts more than anything. It's been a good run. At this point right now it's tough. Again, I feel more bad for the seniors than I do anything. There are some great seniors there. We're going to miss them."
Kobasa on the state tournament single-game record of 43 points by Howard's Carlos Hawkins, who scored 28 points after halftime:
"You've got two of the prime time players in the state (Hawkins and Tech's Brian Polk). We did a heck of a job on him (Hawkins) in the first half, I thought. Carlos did a phenomenal job in the second half. I've never seen Hawkins play but I'll tell you what, I'd pay to see him play again ... only if I'm sitting up in the stands. I don't know what happened in the third quarter. A couple of times we just broke down. Guys that were moving their feet earlier he started beating off the dribble and we didn't get the rotation we were supposed to have. One of the things we tried to tell them is if they got beat off the dribble to step in and take the charge and we didn't have one player do that tonight. It was set up, it was right there because he loves to penetrate ... and he's good at it."
Kobasa on the technical foul against L.J. Walston that Howard turned into a four-point play and a 64-57 lead with 52.7 seconds left (Walston and Polk said they were talking to each other when Walston was hit with the technical for allegedly uttering a profanity):
"I don't know what the technical was about. Brian said they (he and Walston) were just talking to each other. He's a good ref and there's nothing we can do about it. We should have been disciplined enough to keep our mouths shut in that situation. The kids didn't quit but once the technical hit, it was all done. We had no shot. That's something we've got to learn. We've got to learn to be a little more disciplined and just keep playing and let them ref."
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