What counts most are the scoreboard's numbers when time expires, a reality that sent Chapelgate's Flames and Glenelg Country School's Dragons home with diametrically opposite emotions last night.
Second-place Glenelg Country, hoping to tie the Flames for first in their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference division, led for all but maybe 20 seconds in this nail-biter. But owning the ball and up by one point, the Dragons saw their dream turn into a nightmare on a switch-back, inbounds play under their own basket that went awry with eight seconds left.
A deflection of the pass -- no one seemed sure how in a scramble of bodies -- popped into the hands of pressing Chapelgate point guard Matt Tigert on the right side of the lane, and his driving leaner through traffic stole the Flames a 48-47 victory at home.
"I just saw a loose ball and tried to go after it," said Tigert, whose only basket from the field was his first game-winner.
The victory was Chapelgate's second one-pointer of the winter over the Dragons (8-3 league) in what blossomed into one of Howard County's hot interscholastic rivalries in just a few years of both schools' existence. The Flames (15-4 overall, 10-1 with two league games left and a two-game lead) won earlier, 36-35; last winter, the teams split.
"This was a great high school basketball game," said Chapelgate coach Gary Berwager.
Chapelgate owned the lead at only one other point, a minute into the fourth quarter at 38-37, but Glenelg retook it on the next possession and held on until the final seconds.
The Dragons had their biggest lead, 11, midway through the second period. With 3: 22 left, they were up six and seemed in control. Glenelg outscored Chapelgate from the field, 40-38, but at the foul line, where each had 17 attempts, the Flames excelled, 10-7.
"Our guys just refused to quit," Berwager said, noting that "Glenelg always plays nasty defense, but we kept at it defensively, too."
His change to an infrequently used 2-3 zone midway in the second quarter muddied the paint for the Dragons, particularly junior forward Dare Ogunfolaju, who had a game-high 17 points but only six in the second half to go with 3-for-8 shooting on free-throw attempts.
The pressure kept the Dragons scoreless from the field for two long spells, including the game's final 3: 22.
Chris Davidson, the Flames' new 2,000-point career scorer, was held to 11 points, but twice, he threaded the needle to junior post-man Jon Bennett, whose 12 points and nine rebounds topped the Flames.
And Davidson's three-pointer from the left corner with 49 seconds left pulled Chapelgate to a 46-44 deficit and gave it an emotional boost.
Glenelg coach John Aquila, enthusiastic before the game about his defense, whisked his players from Chapelgate afterward without comment. He could not be reached later.
Pub Date: 2/17/99