Nine three-point baskets saved the game for visiting Mount Hebron against Atholton yesterday, 66-59, and allowed the No. 13 Vikings to tie Long Reach for first place in the Howard County standings.
Mount Hebron (12-3, 10-1), which won its eighth straight, didn't get the lead until there was 4:33 remaining. Two free throws by Sean Velasquez put the Vikings ahead 49-47.
A three-pointer by Ricky Choi with three minutes to play put the Vikings ahead permanently, 55-52. It was one of five fourth-quarter three-pointers by the Vikings and Choi's second of that quarter.
Velasquez, who scored a game-high 27 points, sank two of his five three-pointers in the fourth quarter. He hit the other three three-pointers in the first quarter.
"Sean won another game for us," said Vikings coach Mike Linsenmeyer. "He carried us offensively and played smart defensively. He doesn't force his shots, but lets the game come to him. He scored a quiet 27 points."
Atholton (12-4, 8-4), which lost its third straight, was minus its leading scorer, Micah Mbah, who missed the team bus. But the Raiders couldn't have played much better than they did in the first quarter, when center Jonas Vaitkus (19 points) hit five of six shots, leading the Raiders to a 24-15 advantage after one quarter.
The Raiders built their biggest lead, 28-17, after a couple of baskets by Brandon Boy early in the second quarter.
Vikings point guard Aaron Rei-White (16 points) scored six straight to cut the lead to 31-26, and the Raiders clung to a 35-31 halftime lead.
"I was worried at halftime, said Vikings forward Marc Carroll (11 points). "We got a little cocky after we beat Long Reach last week, and we needed someone to bring us down a little. We were lucky to win. Atholton played good help-side defense when we drove, and we were forced to shoot outside. Luckily, our shots dropped.
"Atholton has a very smart coach. This was the smartest team we've played. And they were unselfish. They boxed you out as their teammate drove to the basket so you couldn't get to them. They were very organized, and they have good shooters."
Atholton was 17-for-20 at the foul line and 23-for-42 from the field. It sank 11 of 12 shots in the first quarter.
"Atholton made us look bad by how patient they were offensively, and by the good shots they took," Linsenmeyer said.
The Raiders sank only three baskets from the field in the fourth quarter, while Mount Hebron made eight of 16.