Sophomore Konata Springer scored on a follow-up shot with four seconds to play and lifted No. 2 seed Towson Catholic to a 60-58 victory over top-seeded Loyola for its second straight Catholic League Tournament championship at Reitz Arena last night.
The No. 10 Owls (20-11), who lost twice to the regular-season champion Dons earlier in the season, won their third tournament title in the past five seasons and deprived No. 8 Loyola (23-9) of its first crown since 1978.
The victory forced a playoff game between the two on Saturday for the right to play in the Alhambra Tournament in Cumberland later this month. The loser of that game will play in the St. Maria Goretti Tournament.
In a game that had 11 lead changes, it was fitting that this one went down to the wire.
Towson Catholic had leads through most of the second half, but none was larger than the 55-50 advantage it had with four minutes to play.
But Loyola put on an 8-1 run, moving ahead 58-56 on a 17-foot jumper from Warren Parker with 1:42 to play. The Owls tied the game on a follow shot by Sharif Butler with just over a minute left.
The Dons were called for a walking violation with 37 seconds to play, and Towson Catholic worked the ball for the final shot.
Burrell took a short jumper from the left of the basket, and when the ball caromed off to the right, Springer, a 6-foot-9 center, was alone for the rebound and put back the ball for the win.
"I was waiting to rebound, and when the defense moved out to Silk [Burrell], I stepped up and the ball came right off to me," saidSpringer.
"We got the shot we wanted," said Owls coach Mike Daniel. "And everybody executed. Konata got that offensive rebound and that's what we've been practicing. He's our future."
The Owls were led by Butler's 15 points. But Burrell and Richard Rhinehart each had 11, and Springer finished with 10.
"It was a total team effort," said Daniel. "We did some big things and that's what it's all about. The win tells the story."
Daniel decided he needed a "big" effort to neutralize the inside dual threat offered by the Dons' Wes Unseld Jr. and Jerry Hunt and started his tallest possible lineup, with only 6-foot-3 Butler smaller than 6-foot-5.
"That move gave us matchup problems," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage, who has only one starter as big as 6-foot-5. "And Towson Catholic played very well."
Loyola had trouble getting the ball inside in the first half. Hunt and Unseld were held without a shot in the first quarter and managed only nine points in the half. Towson Catholic outshot the Dons 30-16 from the field.
The All Tournament team included Burrell, Rhinehart and Butler of the Owls; Loyola's Unseld and Hunt; and Chris Wilson of Calvert Hall. Greg Metrinko of Calvert Hall won the Sportsmanship Award.