Southwestern High continued to rack up the victories over ranked teams yesterday, although this time the Sabers didn't sneak up on a ranked opponent.
This time Southwestern, which moved into the rankings at No. 9 this week, was the favorite and had to struggle to defeat No. 10 Loyola, 67-66.
The Sabers (5-0, 2-0) had to rally from an eight-point halftime deficit and a five-point deficit with 5 minutes left to turn back the Dons (4-2, 0-1) in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division I contest.
So what else is new?
"Every game we've played has come down to the wire like this except the Northwestern game," said first-year coach Terry Leverette, whose Southwestern team began the year with upsets over Edmondson, Gibbons and Carver. "It's good in a way for the kids because they know they can win games like this. But I keep telling them there's a bullet with our name on it and we're going to come up short. It almost happened tonight. We do just enough to win."
The victory continued what many have considered a surprising start for Southwestern, which has not contended for an A Conference title since the mid-1980s. But Leverette is not among the surprised.
"I really do honestly believe we can beat the teams we beat," he said. "I would have been terribly upset if we had lost to Edmondson, Gibbons, Carver or Loyola. I think we have a better team."
Sophomore guard Haywood Eaddy had 19 to lead the Sabers. Junior forward Deon Crawford had 15 and sophomore forward Devo Weems had 12.
Loyola led at the half, 39-31, but the Sabers rallied to take a 52-48 lead after three quarters. Loyola ran off the first nine points of the fourth quarter to build a 57-52 lead. The Sabers then ran off 11 of the next 13 points to take a 63-59 lead and never trailed again. During that run Loyola turned the ball over five times.
Loyola kept it close and actually had several chances to win or tie in the final frantic minute.
The Dons had one last chance after Southwestern tossed an inbounds pass out of bounds with 5.7 seconds left. Chris Manquist got off a final shot for the Dons but it was short as time expired.