A pair of free throws by junior guard Keith Jenifer gave third-ranked Towson Catholic a one-point lead with 32 seconds left and the host Owls added two more in the final eight seconds to upset No. 1 Archbishop Spalding, 63-60, yesterday.
Thabo Letsebe and Gil Goodrich, who was fouled with a second left after making a steal, each made the back end of trips to the free-throw line for the final margin before an overflow crowd.
In avenging a 71-68 overtime loss at Spalding on Jan. 15, the No. 3 Owls (19-4) dealt the Cavaliers (21-3) their first Catholic League loss, leaving the teams tied for first at 9-1.
"Not to take anything away from Spalding, because they are a very solid team, but in this league, it's the next game on the schedule," said Mike Daniel, coach of the defending conference champions. "Mentally, this league is as tough as the ACC. The only difference is, the refs get paid more in the ACC."
Derrick Snowden's drive and left-handed lay-in with about a minute left gave Spalding a 60-59 lead. The visitors had trailed 56-49 with just under four minutes left.
Jenifer, who had a game-high 24 points, including four three-pointers, was fouled at the other end and made two free throws to put the Owls back on top to stay.
Snowden (six points) was fouled on a follow and went to the line with 10 seconds remaining. A usually efficient free-throw shooter, Snowden had been poked in the eye on the rebound and missed both shots.
Letsebe snatched his 10th rebound and was fouled, setting the stage for the finish.
"We proved today we can win without Lafonte [Johnson, All-Metro guard who transferred to Dunbar]," said Jenifer, who had 15 first-half points. "I wish we hadn't taken a break because I lost my legs in the third period."
A 29-23 Towson Catholic edge in rebounding was deceiving. Had it not been for Spalding's 7-foot center, Derrick Goode, the Cavaliers might not have been in the game for the lack of muscle down low.
Goode had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with 12 points and three blocked shots. The Owls' 6-6 senior post men, Letsebe and Anthony Thornton, combined for 20 rebounds and 11 points.
"They beat us to loose balls and were more physical and aggressive than we were except for Derrick," said Spalding coach Tony Martin. "And when we lost Derrick, that really hurt."
Goode went down on his previously injured right ankle and was helped off the court with 4: 33 left.
Senior James Bowen came off the bench to give the Cavs a lift in the second half, hitting three three-pointers and scoring 11 of his 13 points.
Bowen, who shared team scoring honors with Tremaine Robinson, made two from the line and followed with his final three-pointer to enable Spalding to cut a late seven-point deficit to 56-54.
Two free throws by Darren Johnson tied it at 56 with 2: 50 left and a slam-dunk by Robinson gave Spalding the lead at 58-56. Towson Catholic went back up 59-58 on a free throw by Jenifer and a basket by Steve Johnson (12 points) just before Snowden finished for Spalding's final score.
"It hurts a lot, but we will definitely put this behind us," Snowden said.
No. 7 Calvert Hall 56, No. 13 St. Frances 51: Jared Woodley scored 15 points and Reggie Bryant added 13 to help the host Cardinals (14-9) hold off the Panthers (9-6) and avoid losing twice in a week to them.
The Cardinals -- who lost to St. Frances, 45-42, last Wednesday -- led 31-19 at halftime but the Panthers pulled closer behind junior forward Tim Payne, who finished with 21 points.
Pub Date: 2/08/99