Would a few recent close defeats toughen the Severn School boys basketball team down the stretch?
Admirals coach Jim Doyle found his answer yesterday.
Behind some blistering second-quarter shooting and crisp passing throughout, Severn defeated visiting Friends for the second time thisseason, 78-65, in a Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference Division II game.
The Admirals (12-6 overall, 10-4 in the league) held a slim 12-10 lead after one quarter, went up by 23 points in the second half, then withstood a late Quakers rally to post the victory.
"They way we win at Severn is hustling and playing good defense, with intensity," said 6-foot-3 sophomore Chris Pitkin, who finished with six points and eight rebounds.
Those elements, along with plentyof scoring both outside and underneath the basket, were in abundanceduring the second quarter, when Severn outscored Friends, 29-15.
Severn opened the quarter with a 9-2 run, with Pitkin, Jake Mack and Brendan Haggerty all scoring on follows. After Friends' David Holder sank a short jumper, Severn's Brad Fowler hit a pair of three-pointers and Haggerty converted inside to give the hosts a 29-14 lead.
Friends would make a 7-0 run with time running down in the first half, but Daniel Wu came off the bench and canned a three-pointer to give the Admirals a 41-25 halftime advantage.
Smooth sailing from then on? Not exactly.
The Quakers drew to within seven points, 72-65, with 1 minute, 52 seconds left in the game before Mack scored on a follow and Pitkin and Fowler each sank two free throws.
"They played hard at the end and I was never worried," Doyle said.
Mack said, "We let down a little and they made a lot of three-pointers. And we really didn't have any intensity on defense, like we had in the first half."
Friends hit five of its six three-point shots in the second half. Spencer Deering sank a pair in tallying 17 of his game-high 24 points after intermission.
Sophomores Mack and Fowler registered 14points apiece to lead Severn, which closes the regular season tomorrow night at home against Lutheran. Senior reserve Marc Morlock added 10 points, as 11 different Admirals scored.
The Quakers (4-12, 4-8) received 15 points each from Sean Armstrong and David Holder, and 18 rebounds from Deering.
The Admirals had suffered a gut-wrenching55-53 loss to Boys Latin Friday, sealing their fate as division runners-up behind the Lakers.
And late last month, they fell to Park in overtime, 62-56, and St. Paul's, 56-54.
With Severn facing a team yesterday that it had dominated last month, 72-47, Doyle feared a letdown. Or worse.
"When we came out for warm-ups we were all lackadaisical, and Coach (Doyle) went down to the locker room and scoldedus because we didn't have any fire in our eyes," Mack said.
The Admirals then went out and played an uninspired opening quarter, only scoring 12 points and committing six turnovers.
"I thought we'd get it going after that," Doyle said. "I knew once we got the press andtransition game going, we'd be fine."
The Admirals didn't let up after halftime, scoring the first seven points to go ahead, 48-25. The third quarter ended with Severn leading, 58-41.
Severn takes part in the Gilman Tournament starting next Tuesday before engaging in the MSA C Conference Tournament the following week.