Lake Clifton forced a tie with Cardinal Gibbons for second place in Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II by edging the host Crusaders, 68-66, on Roger Battle's jump shot with three seconds to play yesterday.
Battle's game-winner came after Gibbons (11-7, 4-1), which trailed, 60-49, with 5 minutes, 5 seconds left, rallied to tie at 66 on Eugene Marshall's steal and driving layup with 2:07 to go.
No. 3 Lake Clifton (9-2, 4-1) then ran a high-post delay until coach Charlie Moore called a timeout with 15 seconds left.
When play resumed, Battle took Curtis Shepherd's pass, dribbled three times and cleanly banked the ball through from 7 feet.
It was his only basket of the game.
"I felt I was the man to do it -- and I'm just glad it went in," said Battle, a 6-foot-6 senior forward. "I just had the confidence to hit it."
Moore concurred. "In that situation, he's the best shooter to take it because he's always steady," Moore said.
Battle's jumper capped a marvelous evening from the field for Lake Clifton. The winners repeatedly broke No. 7 Gibbons' full-court pressure to penetrate the lane or dish off for easy baskets on the baseline.
"They kept their poise and moved the ball well for good shots. Otherwise, they don't shoot that well [30 of 50, 60 percent]," said Crusaders coach Ray Mullis. "They pushed it up and either took it to the basket or to a kid on the baseline. They had some good jumpers."
Said Moore: "We like to break the press and score off of it. You press us, and we want to try to score. We work on that every day."
And that was what swung the game after Gibbons bolted to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes. The Crusaders led, 19-13, at the quarter, but Lake Clifton hit nine of 13 high-percentage shots to take a 33-30 advantage at halftime.
In the third quarter, Shepherd, Robert Brown, Ronnie Van Hook and Harold Smith contributed to 10-of-11 shooting, as Lake Clifton took a 55-47 lead.
Shepherd's three-pointer from the wing opened the 60-49 edge before Gibbons rallied on Quintin Moody's two three-point field goals and baskets off steals by Ross Peacock and Marshall.
Then came the delay, with Smith operating calmly in the middle, to set up Battle's winner.
Lake Clifton's ball movement led to balanced scoring by Van Hook (16 points), Shepherd (14), Brown (12) and Kevin Norris (10). Smith's six rebounds keyed a 26-13 edge on the boards.
Gibbons, which shot 34 percent (18 of 53), had 19 points from Casey Musick, 14 each from Moody and Peacock, and 13 from Marshall.
However, the two big guns, Musick and Moody, were held to a combined 10 points below their average by Van Hook, Shepherd and Battle.
The Crusaders did most of their scoring from the foul line, where they shot 15 times in the first quarter and hit 30 of 43 for the game.