Husain nets 25 as Mustangs prevail in UCBAC Chesapeake first place showdown
by Gary Adornato
After cruising through most of its early season schedule, C. Milton Wright entered Wednesday’s first place showdown with Harford Tech, in the UCBAC Chesapeake Division, reeling just a bit.
The Mustangs had suffered a blowout loss, on their home court, last Wednesday to No. 2 John Carroll and then were upset in league play by Patterson Mill. Although CMW returned to the win column on Tuesday with an important 56-50 triumph over Joppatowne, the Mustangs temporarily lost the services of 6-foot-9 senior post Jack Van Sycle, who suffered a lacerated lip in the victory over the Mariners.
Despite the adversity, the Mustangs responded in outstanding fashion, led by senior guard Imran Husain, who poured in 25 points to pace C. Milton Wright to an impressive 70-53 victory over the host Cobras.
The victory broke a first-place tie between the Harford County rivals, as C. Milton Wright (12-4 overall) improved to 6-1 in the league, while Harford Tech (11-3 overall) slid to 5-2 in the conference.
Harford Tech scored the first six points of the game, but C. Milton Wright senior Brett Lindsey put his squad on the board with a pair of free throws and added another basket during a 10-2 run by the Mustangs which vaulted them to their first lead, at 10-8, with 3:23 remaining in the opening quarter.
The charge took place after a timeout and according to Husain, that was the turning point.
“That timeout we had, it allowed us to gather ourselves up,” said Hussain. “We’ve had some trouble starting off and just playing hard the rest of the game got us where we needed to be.”
After two brief ties, the Mustangs closed the quarter on an 8-3 surge to build a 20-15 lead and they never trailed again.
“Tonight they started denying me, so I knew it was going to be hard to get my shot off, so I just used the other method I had, which was to take it to the basket and find the bigs if possible,” said Hussain who pick up the slack for some of the production missed by Van Sycle’s absence. “I knew I had to trust my teammates, the other bigs. It was a next man up mentality and all three of them provided for us.”
With 6:40 to play in the second quarter Bryan Stiemke drained a 3-pointer to stretch CMW’s lead to 10, at 27-17. Later in the quarter Husain scored eight points in a 16-3 run, which was capped by a breakaway one-handed jam by Eric Steimke, and the Mustangs took a commanding 43-22 lead. Harford Tech scored the final four points of the half, but the Cobras’ fate was already virtually sealed.
“We started the game a little slow. We weren’t running the offense. We didn’t get the ball inside,” said CMW veteran coach Jon Stefanides.
Once the Mustangs got on track, however, Stefanides was impressed with the effort.
“I thought we had an advantage inside. The bigs were scoring and finishing and our press seemed to slow them down enough that we forced some turnovers and allowed us to run. We took full advantage of that.”
Both offenses struggled in the third quarter, but Husain scored nine more points, including five during a 6-0 run, late in the quarter, which produced the Mustangs’ biggest lead of the night, at 57-35. The Cobras, who were led by 15 points from junior Laday Cooper, got back within 15 early in the fourth quarter, but a three-point jumper by Lindsey help push the lead back to 20 with 3:19 to play.
It was a performance Stefanides was happy to see after his squad’s struggles over the last seven days.
“We’ve definitely been out of sync,” the coach said. “That John Carroll loss took us out of our mojo and we didn’t get it back against Patterson Mill. We started to see it last night against Joppatowne. Tonight, we seemed to really have fun again on the court and I can’t wait to see what practice looks like tomorrow to see if it carries over and into Friday against Fallston.”
As far as his team was concerned, Harford Tech coach Bill Jones indicated that his guys may have been out of sync as well.
‘They seemed to stop doing what we asked them to do,” said Jones. “We like to run; we like to push the ball up and down the court and get layups. We’re not a very good shooting team and they kind of fell apart with the pressure from C. Milton Wright. It was disappointing tonight.”
Despite this, Jones said his team still has all of its goals in front of it.
“Our goal is to win the sectional and win the region championship. We played for it the last three years and we won last year. It’s a great league we play in which prepares us, but ultimately we need to win four or five games at the end of the year to get where we want to be.”
Junior Quincy Haughton added 12 points for the Mustangs and Lindsey finished with nine. Senior Jordan Bright netted 13 for Harford Tech.
C. MILTON WRIGHT 70, HARFORD TECH 53
C. MILTON WRIGHT: Husain 25, Haughton 12, B. Stiemke 6, Hopkins 6, Lindsey 9, E. Stiemke 4, Patterson 6, Sigler 2. TOTALS: 30 6-10 70.
HARFORD TECH: Cooper 15, Dangerfield 7, Bright 13, Ifeacho 5, Harris 2, Hayes 2, Wright 2, McKissit 2, D. Lucas 2. TOTALS: 22 6-12 53.