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They wondered how Starkey could get Sewell to come to Shepherd

By Staff | Feb 21, 2019

SHEPHERDSTOWN – In southern Maryland and along the Chesapeake Bay, the people who kept close tabs on high school basketball in the area during the early 1970s often checked the box scores to see what Rodney Sewell had done.

Tobacco was still a vibrant cash crop and much of the area sandwiched between Washington, D.C., and the bay was still rural.

Any athlete playing in Calvert, St. Mary’s or Charles counties was a treasure to those who closely followed the small high schools in those counties.

And Rodney Sewell was a smooth offensive player who didn’t have to take many shots to place 25 points in the scorebooks after only three-quarters of play.

Sewell became one of the all-time leading scorers in Southern Maryland prep history.

He also wanted to play baseball at the college of his choice.

He wasn’t a large, rawboned inside player. He wasn’t a will-o-the-wisp point guard. Sewell was 6-foot-2 and weighed about 175 pounds. And he could get “his shot” – either in traffic, in a free-flowing game that featured fast breaks or in a half-court setting, where movement and purpose were essential.

When he came to Shepherd with scoring records trailing behind, Sewell joined an up-tempo team featuring Dave Russell, Mike Philippi and Larry Boomer. Russell became Shepherd’s all-time leading scorer before he completed his career in the 1974-1975 season.

Sewell was an immediate starter on a team that would finish high in the WVIAC standings. And he scored in consistent numbers, without firing away with any machine gun staccato.

In four years that seemed to fly by on the wings of a quick-diving falcon, Sewell was named a first-team player on three WVIAC all-league teams. Shepherd won a bold face .841 of its games, including a national-best 33-3 record in the 1975-1976 season.

The only Regional title ever won by any Shepherd team in history came in Sewell’s senior year, when the Rams defeated Monmouth and Glassboro State before eventually dropping a game late in the NCAA Division II tournament to eventual champion University of Scranton.

When Sewell’s statistics were finally all measured, he had scored a legendary 2,205 points – second highest in school history to Russell’s all-time best. At the time he completed his eligibility, Sewell had 526 rebounds, or seventh best in the school annals.

Southern Maryland basketball lovers knew where Sewell had gone to play collegiately. And they weren’t surprised by what he accomplished at Shepherd. After all, they had seen him glide through games without drawing attention to himself in high school. The games would be over, and he had 35 points without missing many shots or missing many beats on the floor.

Sewell has a place in Shepherd’s Athletic Hall of Fame, being selected as soon as he was eligible.

In his four seasons in Sara Cree Hall, he had blended his scoring and floor play with occasional flurries of points and mostly wins, as Shepherd marched through the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, beating nearly everybody until they saw Joe Retton’s Fairmont teams.