Severn School started its New Year on a positive note yesterday withthe return of two key members of its boys basketball squad.

Junior starters Jake Mack and Brad Fowler made their long-awaited 1992 debut against pesky Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference foe John Carroll.

The usually prolific pair totaled just 13 points but provided enough spark to boost the host Admirals to a 53-47 victory at Memorial Gymnasium.

Off-guard Mack, who suffered a knee injury in an Oct. 5 football game against Curley, came off the bench midway through the first quarter to score nine points and grab four rebounds in his firstgame of the season.

Fowler, who manned the point-guard position, returned after suffering a broken foot in mid-December's Gilman Tournament, added four points and five rebounds -- in addition to handlingthe ball for most of the game.

"We played well during the first quarter, but then we fell out of sync for a while because with Jake and Brad back, everyone is still trying to learn their roles," said Severn coach Jim Doyle.

"For this being his first time on the court, I though Jake played exceptionally well. A little later in the game he tried to do some stuff on his own that wasn't there, but the first quarter I thought he played great.

"I think Brad had an off-game, that wasn't the real Brad Fowler. His foot was bothering him, and I think it showed. It affected his shooting, especially his outside shot. I think he may have tried to do a little too much."

Severn (7-4 overall, 2-0 conference) threatened to make the game a rout during the second quarter, as freshman guard John Vereen hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Admirals a 25-10 cushion five minutes, 10 seconds before intermission.

Vereen had a team-high 13 points, including 12 in the first half.

But for the remainder of the quarter, the Patriots (3-8, 1-1) outscored the Admirals, 12-2, as RicAbercrombie's layup closed the gap to 25-22 with 45 seconds remaining. Vereen canned his second three-pointer two seconds before the end of the half to put the hosts up by six.

Less than five minutes into the third quarter, Severn had stretched its lead to 37-26, but Geoff Sweeney's 40-foot line drive at the buzzer cut it to 39-35.

The visitors from Harford County refused to go away during the final period, cutting the lead to just two points on three separate occasions despite eight fourth-quarter points from Admiral guard Jason Moran (12points).

With just 47 seconds left in the game, the Patriots blewa chance to cut the lead to one when Caleb Brown's backdoor pass sailed over the head of Aaron Buthod. Chris Pitkin (eight points) slammed the door shut with a short jumper with 30 seconds remaining.

"This has been the way the whole season has gone," said John Carroll coach Rich Romanelli. "We always get down early, then we come back, but we just can't get over the hump.

"I think we beat ourselves. I don't want to take anything away from that team (Severn) because they played a good game, but I really think that in this particular game we missed so many layups and too many easy shots. And when it came down to crunch time, we missed a couple of crucial foul shots."

Patriotswingman Myron Cole led all scorers with 22 points, while tying Abercrombie for team-high totals in rebounds with eight. Andrew Webb (five points) had 10 rebounds for the Admirals.

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