WASHINGTON -- Southern High may have made its point, although the Bulldogs would have preferred to make it with a victory.
Southern, looking for an opportunity to move into the national rankings with Dunbar, failed to score in overtime and lost to New York's Christ the King, 70-63, in a Gonzaga Classic semifinal yesterday at American University.
The loss likely will deny the Bulldogs a spot in the national polls for another week, but they proved capable of playing with the country's best. Christ the King is ranked No. 11 in the USA Today national poll.
Southern (3-1) led most of the way before falling behind by 63-59 with two minutes left.
The Bulldogs rallied to tie on a follow tap by Kwame Evans and a driving jumper by Derrick Watkins with 35 seconds left to force overtime.
After that, the Bulldogs never got untracked offensively. Looking to work the ball inside, they turned the ball over on their first four possessions. Meanwhile Jason Cipolla was scoring four as Christ the King ran off six straight to take a 69-63 lead.
"We kind of wanted to get the ball inside to Abdul [Brown] or Derrick [Watkins] to get a good shot or maybe have a chance for a foul, but our execution was bad," said Southern coach Meredith Smith.
Sophomore point guard Damon Cason led Southern with 16, Brown, a junior center had 14, Evans, a senior guard, finished with 12 and Watkins, a senior forward had 10.
Evans and sophomore forward Kevin Simpson were slowed by the flu. From the field, Evans made just three of 11 shots in the first half and finished eight of 22, while Simpson made only one of 10.
"We can't use that as an excuse," said Watkins, who along with Evans played most of the final quarter with four fouls. "We have to overlook something like that."
The Bulldogs had done just that for four quarters. They built a 9-2 lead before settling for a 17-14 first-quarter advantage. They pushed that margin to six, but led by only one at the half (30-29) and after three quarters (50-49).
"I think we made a point," said Smith. "That [Christ the King] is a senior team. Experience makes a difference."
Cipolla, a 6-6 senior forward, paced Christ the King with 24. Rich Vetere, a senior guard, added 17.
"We know we can be in the top 20 [nationally]," said Cason. "We are a young team, and Kevin and Kwame both had the flu. As soon as they get well, we'll bounce back."
"It was an opportunity, but it's not the last one we will get," said Watkins. "We play in The Washington Post Tournament [next weekend] and the Charm City Classic [Jan. 17-18 with Dunbar at the Towson Center]."