Mount Saint Joseph junior forward Nigel Jackson doesn't remember much about his first game-winning basket, guessing he was around 11 years old when it happened.
He'll never forget his second one.
Coming off the bench with the score tied and 1.5 seconds left in Wednesday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference quarterfinal against visiting St. Vincent Pallotti, Jackson set up on the right baseline as a potential option.
When fellow senior Pierre Johnson found him with an inbound pass, Jackson soon became the hero.
His 3-pointer ended the visiting Panthers' furious fourth-quarter rally and give the No. 1 Gaels a thrilling 48-45 win.
Mount Saint Joseph improves to 27-3 and next hosts No. 4 Glenelg Country — a 62-53 winner over Calvert Hall — in today'ssemifinal round at 5 p.m.
"[Coach Pat] Clatchey subbed me in for the play," Jackson said. "He said we were going to do a couple misdirection screens to get the defense focused on the [left] side of the court and told me get out to the corner. Pierre hit me with a perfect pass and I knocked it down.
"It feels great. It's a big game. If we lose this we go home, so I just knew I had to hit this shot so we can get this championship."
In the regular-season meeting on Jan. 10, a 56-52 win by Mount Saint Joseph, the Gaels led for most of the game, but needed some key defensive stops and free throws at the end to close it out. This time, it was tight until midway through the third quarter when the Gaels went on a run that built the lead to 41-29 on Miles Wilson's basket on the opening possession of the fourth quarter.
The Panthers (14-4) answered impressively to make a game of it at the end with junior DJ Mitchell carrying the play on offense. He scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to help close the gap — makinga baseline jump shot and then a 3-pointer with 1:44 to play to tie it at 45.
After both teams had two possessions but were unable to break the tie, the Gaels had the ball with 22 seconds left. Junior guard Justice Kendall's drive to the basket was off the mark, but went out of bounds off Pallotti to give the Gaels the last chance after a timeout called with 1.5 seconds left.
Clatchey designed the play and his players executed with Jackson scoring his first points of the game.
"That's not something we normally run, that was drawn up in the timeout so it wasn't something we practiced," Clatchey said. "They listened and at that point, you're basically looking for an opportunity, a shot. Now whether the kid makes it or not, fortunately tonight he knocks it down,"
Senior Randy Miller scored 14 points and added seven rebounds for the Gaels, who had eight players score.
The Panthers, playing their first season in the A Conference after making the jump from the B, got a team-best 13 points from Everette Hammond.
No. 4 Glenelg Country 62, Calvert Hall 53: Anthony Longpre scored 11 of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter to lead the third-seeded Dragons (19-7) past the second-seeded Cardinals (16-13) in a MIAA A Conference quarterfinal.
Glenelg County went up 48-37 at the end of the third quarter and kept the lead around 10 points the rest of the way.
No. 6 St. Frances 85, Gilman 66: Kurk Lee scored 28 points and Daquan Bracey added 23 points to lead the host Panthers (27-7) past the Greyhounds (11-15) in a MIAA A Conference quarterfinal.
St. Frances led 41-24 at the half and hosts No. 7 John Carroll tonight at 7 p.m.
No. 7 John Carroll 52, McDonogh 48: The host Patriots (21-9) beat the Eagles (17-11) in an MIAA A Conference quarterfinal.
Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.