Last night, with 3.4 seconds left in overtime and the score tied at 60 against Woodlawn, Owings Mills guard Michael Kleeman stepped to the free-throw line.
Eagles coach Richard Epps described Kleeman as "about a 95 percent free-throw shooter," so the game seemed as if it was in the right player's hands. Kleeman shot the first free throw and the ball hit the rim, spun in, then out, and fell to the court, leaving the game tied. He had one more shot to give his team the lead. The pressure didn't faze him.
"I wasn't worried," Kleeman, a senior, said. "Not that I knew I was going to hit it, but I was just confident."
Kleeman's next shot hit nothing but nylon, and Owings Mills escaped with a 61-60 victory in a Baltimore County game against the Warriors.
"I knew he was going to make the second one," center Andrew Fitzgerald said. "In the end, I knew we could come out on top."
It didn't seem as if the Eagles would need overtime to begin with, but Woodlawn rallied late to force an extra period.
Owings Mills (8-2) had a 51-43 lead with just 1:20 left in the game after forcing Woodlawn (5-3) into many poor shots with its 3-2 zone defense. The Warriors' Keon Bennett, who led Woodlawn with 17 points, made a three-pointer to cut the lead to five with a minute left.
The Eagles started getting sloppy with the ball, in part because Woodlawn started playing a full-court pressure defense, enabling the Warriors to tie the game at 51.
With 20 seconds left, Fitzgerald, who had game highs in points (20), rebounds (18) and blocks (four), caught an inbounds pass on the low-post block and scored to give Owings Mills the lead. Woodlawn countered with a put-back layup by Giles-Johnson with two seconds left to force overtime.
The overtime period went back and forth before Kleeman's deciding free throws.