Less than a week ago, the favored Lutheran basketball team suffered a devastating loss to Park in the semifinals of the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference Tournament.
Last night, the Saints began to pick up the pieces.
Ninth-seeded Lutheran got 21 points each from Joel Davis and Curtis Miller en route to a 76-71 win over eighth-seeded Archbishop Spalding in the opening round of the MSA Independent Schools Basketball Tournament at Gilman.
In other first-round games, sixth-seeded Friends defeated 11th-seeded Beth Tfiloh, 64-62, in overtime, and seventh-seeded Boys' Latin beat 10th-seeded Mount Carmel, 69-56.
Today, the tournament moves into the quarterfinals with defending champion Gilman meeting Friends at 2 p.m., No. 2 seed Severn playing Boys' Latin at 4 p.m., No. 5 seed St. Paul's meeting fourth-seeded John Carroll at 6 p.m. and top-seeded McDonogh playing Lutheran at 8 p.m.
Although Saints coach Thomas Lentsch admits his team will have to play almost flawlessly to upend the newly crowned B Conference champions, he said he was pleased just having won a game.
Not only was Lutheran coming off the loss, it entered yesterday ** never having won a game in the tournament.
For the players, the win was enormous.
"Losing [to Park] was basically the end of the season for us in the conference, but we just wanted to come out here and win," said Davis, who scored 14 in the second half.
"It feels great to win, especially against a B Conference team. It's a boost to your confidence."
The Saints (13-6) led from the beginning, using pressure defense to build their lead to as many as 13, 35-22, late in the first half.
After Spalding (5-15) scored 15 of the next 19 points to cut the lead to two, Lutheran held its ground and again began to extend its lead. The Saints shot 62 percent in the third quarter, and led 61-53 going into the fourth quarter.
From there, the Cavaliers never seriously challenged, hitting only eight of their final 29 shots.
The final five-point spread was the closest they came to the lead since early in the third quarter.
Now Lutheran's focus turns toward the top-seeded Eagles -- a bigger and quicker team that will be favored heavily to make the finals.
"We'll be really excited to play them," said Davis. "Nobody will even be expecting us to come close, but we think we can give them a real challenge."
The best finish of the day came in the opening game of the tournament.
Trailing Friends 60-58 with six seconds left in regulation, No. 11 seed Beth Tfiloh forced overtime when Adam Klaff grabbed the rebound of Sean Armstrong's missed free throw, dribbled the length of the court and scored the tying layup with one second left.
In overtime, however, it was Friends' turn for heroics.
With the game tied 62-62, the Quakers' Brian Hamilton got the rebound of Armstrong's missed shot and scored the game-winner at the buzzer to give Friends a 64-62 victory.
In the nightcap, Mike Dilonardo scored 14 points to lead Boys' Latin over Mount Carmel, 69-56.
The Lakers (10-13), who finished in fourth place in the tournament last year, led from the start, taking a 16-15 lead after the first quarter and extending it to 33-22 by halftime.
Mount Carmel (9-15) got as close as 10 on several occasions in the fourth quarter, but never could pull any closer.
"We played really hard, but we got sloppy at times," said Boys' Latin coach Hugh Gelston. "It was a good win for us."
The victors featured a balanced scoring attack, with seven players scoring at least five points.
Next up for the Lakers is second-seeded Severn -- a team they've lost to twice this season in lopsided fashion.
"We played a good game against them last time but still lost by 16," said Gelston. "We almost have to play a mistake-free game to have a chance at beating them."
Host Gilman has won the tournament five out of six years.
The tournament concludes with the championship game Friday at 8.