The John Carroll boys basketball team has found a safe haven for the basketball when games come down to the final seconds.
It's a place that breeds confidence, comfort and, ultimately, victories.
Clock ticking down? No problem. Defenders locked in? No problem. Self doubt? Not from Rodney Elliott Jr.
When the ball is in the hands of the 6-foot-1 senior point guard, the Patriots can almost guarantee that something good will happen.
A captain and two-year starter, Elliott has hit four game-winning shots this season to lead the No. 5 Patriots to a 24-10 mark as they head into Wednesday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs. The defending league champions earned the fourth seed and will host Calvert Hall in the quarterfinal round.
"You can play rec ball all the way through the pros and may never get one of those type of moments — it's extremely rare," John Carroll coach Tony Martin said. "To see one kid have that many game-winning shots in a season — I've never been a part of anything like it in 25 years. I told Rodney the other day in practice that he's having a special year and to enjoy the moment and keep working hard. He's a humble kid and deserves it."
Being the last-second hero is nothing new to Elliott.
His first game-winning basket came when he hit a jumper in an under-9 recreation league at the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center in East Baltimore. After the victory, his father, former Dunbar and Maryland star Rodney Elliott Sr., gave him some advice that he remembers for every game.
"My father told me 'From this point on, this is what you have to do — you have to be brave. You have to want to take that last shot and believe you can make it,'" Elliott Jr. said.
In addition to making a bunch of important shots late in games, Elliott took on a bigger role for the Patriots this season.
Last year, he was mostly a distributor in a lineup that featured forward Jarred Jones and a deep backcourt in which players competed for playing time.
After Jones moved on to Loyola University and underclassmen Kamau Stokes and Justin Jenifer transferred to Dunbar and Milford Mill, respectively, Elliott became the key component in a backcourt suddenly full of inexperienced players.
He's averaging 17 points, 3.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals, taking care of the basketball and providing leadership for the younger players.
"This year, my role has changed a lot," Elliott said. "I'm being more aggressive and my confidence is higher. But like always, we have great players helping out, so it's not just me but also my teammates."
Elliott's late-game success and poised play during the rest of the game may be attributed to growing up in the spotlight.
After all, he shares the same distinct jaw line and eyes as his father. So every time he walks into a gym, everybody knows whose son he is.
Elliott Sr., a 6-foot-8 forward who many know as "Noodles," played internationally for several years after his college career with the Terps from 1994-1998.
"It's a good feeling," Elliott said about following his father in basketball. "It can be hard sometimes living up to what he did. He went to Maryland and then had a great career overseas. I just embrace it, listen to his knowledge of the game and I'm just trying to go as far as he did or even farther."
Elliott, who is receiving attention from a number of mid- and low-level Division I colleges, has always made his father proud.
"Everybody knows he's Rodney Elliott Jr. — Noodles' son. We get it everywhere we go. But he's done a great job of carving out his own niche," Elliott Sr. said.