Eric Brown's layup with four seconds left lifted No. 10 Meade over 15th-ranked Old Mill, 61-59, in Millersville last night.
Brown, a 5-foot-6 junior who scored five of his nine points in the closing moments, stripped the Patriots' Jason Galloway as he crossed midcourt headed for the corner with about 10 seconds left and was fouled by Noel Cruz on his layup.
"It was a hard-fought game and I knew at the end, I had to do something to come through," said Brown.
Brown missed from the line on his chance for a three-point play and Cruz grabbed the rebound, dashed to the other end and threw up a three-point attempt that fell short as the buzzer sounded.
The Meade victory gave No. 3 Annapolis, a winner over Arundel last night, sole possession of first in the 12-team county public school league. Defending county champion Meade (10-1) and Old Mill (9-2) are 4-1 each in league play.
Meade's only loss was to Annapolis, and the Mustangs were on the brink last night after leading the entire game upon breaking a 5-5 tie in the first quarter. Meade led 32-25 at the half and took a 47-43 lead into the final eight minutes with Mustangs coach Butch Young using 11 players.
"I said early on that we have 10-11 guys who can run and catch the ball," said Young. "They're all pretty athletic. The quickness is there and this game is a heck of a rivalry.
"We played them [Old Mill] to overtime and the other game was settled by four points last year."
Old Mill tied the game at 57 on a pair of free throws by Cruz (11 points, three rebounds) with 2: 48 remaining, but a left-handed layup down the lane by Brown with 1: 50 on the clock put Meade back on top, 59-57.
Patriots' coach Paul Bunting called for a timeout with 1: 41 left and, returning to the court, Cruz went baseline and was snuffed by 6-3 Terrell Ross (game-high 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots).
However, the ball ended up in the hands of the Pats' 6-5 Craig Hall (16 points, eight rebounds), who went over Ross to tie it at 59 with 1: 10 remaining.
The two teams exchanged turnovers, one of them an offensive foul by the Mustangs' Jef Charles, who fouled out with seven points, three assists and game-high totals of 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
With 19 seconds left, Cruz took an inbounds pass from Tim Smith (six points), lost his balance but had the presence of mind to call a timeout as he was falling backward into the stands.
Breaking their huddle, the ball went out to Galloway and Brown did the rest.
Bunting took the blame.
"The last 20 seconds have to go on me, absolutely," said Bunting. "We've got to get the ball up court and I've got to get them into something.
"We burned a timeout and bringing the ball up court, we didn't even get a shot off. We went to the smaller, quicker lineup, but have to get the ball up court. I've got to give them a little more structure on what to do. I told our guys, that's on me."
Pub Date: 1/13/99