There were many happy faces for No. 6 Southwestern after its 57-56 season-opening victory over visiting Potomac last night.
But none was happier than Haywood Eaddy, whose two free throws with 38 seconds remaining in regulation provided the winning margin for the Sabers (1-0).
Potomac (0-1) used two timeouts and worked the clock down to four seconds before Matt Brown's three-point attempt from the left corner missed and a scramble for the loose ball caused the remaining seconds to elapse.
"It was a tight game," said Eaddy, a 5-foot-8 senior guard. "We hit the big shots when we had to and came through. That's the sign of a good ballclub."
Eaddy, who played all 32 minutes last night, finished with 19 points and eight assists. Senior forward Donnie Joy added 18 points and four rebounds. Brown, a senior forward, led all scorers with 21 for the Braves. Senior center William "Dink" Peters had 18.
For Eaddy, last night's victory was a significant beginning because of how last season ended. He was slowed for the second half by tendinitis in both knees. The Sabers, who lost in the Class 3A regional semifinals to eventual champion Southern of Baltimore last season, weren't the same team without a healthy Eaddy.
With some advice from Keith Booth, a starting forward at Maryland, who was last season's Baltimore Sun Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Eaddy iced his knees two to three times daily to relieve the pain, and worked his way back into shape.
With Eaddy at full strength and six seniors, the Sabers are considered a contender for the state 4A title. But preseason preparations were slightly hindered because the Sabers couldn't get a scrimmage.
And last night, they had to open with Potomac, the state 3A finalist last season and ranked No. 5 in the Washington metro area, with an imposing front line featuring Brown (6-5) and Peters, who at 6-9, 295 pounds, is considered the Washington area's top college prospect.
The Braves held a 49-46 margin with 5:39 remaining in the game, after a 8-0 run. Joy tied the game for Southwestern with a three-pointer. A jumper and layup by Eaddy opened the Sabers' margin to 55-51 with 3:11 left.
Potomac regained the lead at 56-55 on a layup by Peters and a three-pointer by Brown. The Sabers turned the ball over, but the Braves couldn't capitalize with 1:01 remaining. With 38 seconds left, Eaddy was fouled on a baseline drive by Chris Johnson.
"If Haywood goes, we go," said Southwestern coach Terry Leverette. "I kept asking him if he was tired and he said he was fine. He's a little spark plug for us."