Boys hoops: Two points separate Saints from MAC spoils

February 25, 2012|By TIM KOELBLE |

ST. JAMES — For the second straight season, Potomac School (Va.) defeated Saint James three times.

Unlike the previous five games, the Mid-Atlantic Conference championship was on the line, and the Panthers held on long enough to withstand a late charge by Saint James and win the MAC title, 62-60.

In Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Flint Hill, the Saints were down by 15 and rallied to win by 14. But Saturday’s comeback attempt had only half the time to work with.

“We just started playing too late,” said Saints coach Paul Easton. “I’ve got some incredible kids and they fought to come back.”

The Saints won’t mind not seeing Potomac’s 6-foot-3 senior guard Cullen Hamilton again. He torched Saint James with a barrage of 3-pointers on the way to a 27-point performance.

Williams hit five treys and Potomac shot over Saint James’ zone at will, hitting 11 of 16 from beyond the arc.

“We’re aggressive and we’re shooters,” said Potomac coach Levin Franklin. “We talked to (Hamilton) before the tournament how we needed him to lead us. He’s gotten us here and we refused to lose.”

The Saints trailed 22-10 at the 6:32 mark of the second quarter after Williams hit a 3.

From that point, it was tough sledding to get back into the game. At four points in the third quarter, the Saints (17-10) looked poised to make a full rally, but Hamilton stepped in and hit a 3.

After Hamilton hit two free throws with 5:24 left to play, the Panthers still held a 52-42 advantage.

But Avery Wilmore and Obi Enechionyia led a late charge that got the Saints within one possession. Fred Slater’s three-point play on a rebound and putback whittled the deficit to 58-55 with 24.8 seconds to go.

A.J. Davis hit two free throws for Potomac, before Wilmore drilled 3 to make it 60-58 with 11.4 seconds left.

With no timeouts left, the Saints had to foul and sent Hamilton to the line with 4.1 to play. He hit both to ice the game at 62-58 for the Panthers — the Saints’ basket at the buzzer proved meaningless.

“They were more physical than us in the beginning and their defense spread us out and away from the basket,” said Easton. “And we had a tough time guarding Hamilton. We just did not deny him the ball.”

In his final varsity game, Wilmore led the Saints with 19 points. Obi Enechionyia had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Nnamdi Enechionyia had 10 points.

Potomac 62, Saint James 60
O. Enechionyia 16, Wilmore 19, N. Enechionyia 10, Slater 8, Orfan 7, Harris 0. Totals 25 7-9 60.
Broome 2, Davis 4, Hamilton 27, De. Hill 5, Da. Hill 12, Samuel 9, Carney 3. Totals 19 11-15 62.
Saint James    10    13    15    22    —    60
Potomac     17    13    16    16    —    62
3-point goals — Saint James 3 (N. Enechionyia, Slater, Orfan), Potomac School 11 (Hamilton 5, De. Hill, 3, Da. Hill, Samuels 2). Rebounds — Saint James 24 (O. Enechionyia 11), Potomac School 28 (Carney 7). Turnovers — Saint James 9, Potomac School 11.

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