Throughout much of Monday evening’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Potomac Division boys basketball contest between St. Charles High School boys basketball team and host North Point, the outcome appeared destined to be decided in the waning seconds of play.
North Point, which trailed at the end of the first three quarters, had chipped away at the Spartans’ advantage through the opening stages of the fourth quarter and a conventional three-point play by the Eagles’ Jayvin Brown brought the hosts within 52-48 with just over three minutes remaining. North Point, however, was unable to get any closer.
St. Charles closed out the contest on an 11-1 run as it got buckets inside and free throws late from Darius Miles and free throws from Omar McGann and Anthony Bowman to pull away from the Eagles for a 63-49 victory. North Point actually led 5-0 in the opening minute of play following a three-point field goal by Satchel Ball, but St. Charles led 15-12 at the end of the period and never looked back.
The Spartans’ win, as well as a Lackey 71-38 win over La Plata on Monday night, set a three-way tie for first in the SMAC Potomac as Lackey, St. Charles and Thomas Stone enter tonight’s action with identical 15-4 overall, 7-3 division marks.
“I liked the way that we were able to close out the game tonight,” said St. Charles coach Brett Campbell whose team will host Lackey at 6:30 tonight. “In the fourth quarter we did a much better job on the defensive boards. We really focused a lot on that in practice last week and it really paid off.”
St. Charles junior Omar McGann hit a pair of three-point field goals in the first quarter and another to open the third quarter, but it was his willingness to take a pair of charges in the fourth that Campbell applauded the most. McGann also hit a pair of free throws with 41.5 seconds remaining to account for the final points of the contest.
Klayton Batten led the Spartans with 16 points, while McGann had 13 and E’Mari Johnson added 11.
“It felt good hitting those three-pointers early,’ McGann said. “The crowd here was really into it. Then later in the game I made some little plays that helped my team. But those plays mean as much as any of the others. They all contribute to winning, which is the main thing.”
North Point (15-5, 6-4 SMAC Potomac) trailed by 11 points when McGann opened the second half with his third three-pointer of the night, but the Eagles trimmed the deficit to 46-41 by the end of the third quarter.
North Point stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter thanks to jumpers from Magic Hewlett, Andre Bentley and Chandler Williams and a conventional three-point play from Brown trimmed the gap to 52-48 with 3 minutes 26 seconds remaining.
Hewlett was the only Eagle to finish in double figures, scoring 11 points.
“We kept it close until we started playing selfish basketball,” said North Point coach Jimmy Ball, whose team will host La Plata at 6:30 p.m. Friday then conclude the schedule at Westlake at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. “We didn’t take care of the basketball over the last three minutes. Guys started looking at the scoreboard and at the clock and thinking it was up to them to do it by themselves.”
Ball’s postgame comments clearly mirrored how poorly his team performed during the last crucial stage of the game. The Eagles managed only one free throw over the final 200 seconds of play while taking numerous ill-advised long range jumpers. St. Charles got buckets and free throws from Miles, McGann and a three-pointer from Tremaine Chesley with one minute to play that gave the visitors a 61-49 lead.
“We finally had a normal week of practice last week,” Campbell said. “That really helped. We worked on a lot of things that we needed to address heading into this game. We have another tough game against Lackey on Wednesday and we still have one game after that against Westlake. We needed a close game like this one to help us get focused.”