The Severn boys basketball team survived a five-minute, fourth-quarter scoring drought yesterday and nipped visiting St. Paul's, 50-48, to claim sole possession of first place in the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference.
"Turnovers were killing us and we made adjustments, and we just weren't doing anything," said Severn coach Jim Doyle, whose Admirals are 8-0 and 13-5. "You have to give some credit to St. Paul's, because they raised their game a level."
St. Paul's (11-8, 6-2) trapped its way back into contention in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders scored 10 straight points to start the period and pulled within 41-40.
"They extended their zone way out, and we weren't making the diagonal pass and getting the ball down low," Doyle said. "We like when teams pressure us normally because we're going to get the transition basket and get the ball to the big men. We just didn't do a good job of that."
The Admirals, who are seeking their first C Conference title, turned the ball over on their first seven possessions of the fourth quarter and were held scoreless for 5 minutes, 33 seconds before Brad Fowler (17 points) made both ends of a one-and-one, to increase the margin to three.
"We went out and extended our defense a little bit, and I think we had to," said St. Paul's coach Rick Collins, whose team lost, 43-40, to the Admirals on Dec. 14 in the Laker Invitational at Boys' Latin. "We were outsized, so we wanted to play them out top, and that really helped us get back into the ballgame."
Severn's only field goal of the fourth quarter came off the fingertips of senior forward Graydon Ripley and gave the Admirals a 45-40 lead with 1:32 left.
Two free throws from Jason Moran (11 points) and one from center Andrew Webb put the Crusaders on the ropes as they trailed, 48-42, with less than a minute left.
St. Paul's answered with three-pointers from Simms Jenkins (24 points) and Rob Bouse to tie the score at 48 with 13 seconds remaining, but 10 seconds later, committed what proved to be the decisive foul.
With the game on the line and overtime lurking, Webb made two foul shots to ice it for Severn.
"He's been playing well," Doyle said of Webb, who finished the game with five points, eight blocked shots and nine rebounds. "He's a senior who's stepped up and made this team a little better."
Webb said: "We weren't expecting the trap, and we weren't executing against it. We started getting a little frustrated, and we weren't moving the ball. Finally, we got our wits about us."