St. Paul's coach Rick Collins swore he didn't plan the events that took place at the end of the third quarter of last night's 78-71 win over visiting Archbishop Curley.
To the fans, however, the results made him seem like a coaching genius.
With the Crusaders trailing by a point and under five seconds to go in the quarter, the Friars' Jamie Cruz nailed a three-point basket and was fouled. Collins, upset with the call, stepped out of the coaches' box to protest, and was immediately whistled for a technical. Cruz then made three straight foul shots to put his team up by seven.
Six points with no time run off the clock -- accident or not, Collins knew it was time to appeal to his players' sympathetic ears.
"Do me a big favor," he told them. "I put you in this bind; you haven't done it yourself. Let's see if we can dig our way out of it."
That was all the cajoling the Crusaders (16-5 overall, 9-2 in the league) needed.
Trailing by nine in the fourth quarter's early moments, they stepped up their defensive intensity and put together a 10-0 run, giving them a 60-59 lead with 5: 41 left in the crucial Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference game.
"We figured we all had to get together as a group," said senior Chad Unitas. "We had to come back."
Said Collins: "They really stepped up."
Unitas finished with a game-high 22 points, including four three-pointers, while Justin Singleton had 14. Normally hot-shooting Michael Satyshur, who scored 23 against Curley (15-8, 6-4) in the teams' first meeting, finished with only 10, but did the bulk of his damage by penetrating and dishing to the perimeter for open jumpers.
But the Crusaders' biggest advantage came on the glass, where they held a nearly 2-to-1 margin in rebounding. They did their best work on the offensive end, getting two or three shots on many possessions.
"They just killed us on the boards," said Friars coach Dan Popera. "They just out-rebounded us something terrible. They wanted it more than we did -- flat and simple. We just didn't show any aggressiveness at all."
Forward Brian Hubbard led Curley with 19 points, guard Chuck Fuller had 17 and Cruz added 14.
The victory was a big one for St. Paul's. With a week and a half left in the regular season, the Crusaders hold a one-game lead over McDonogh and a two-game edge over Curley in the B Conference Division I standings.
"We control our own destiny," said Collins. "This was huge. We have two league games left. If we win both of those we know we'll place the first seed in our division."
Pub Date: 2/06/97