"You are going to have to stop No. 12, that is the key. He is one ofthe best players in the league."
Park School coach Web Johnson obviously knew what he was telling his team just before the start of yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference game against host St. Mary's.
No. 12, aka Charlie McCloud, drilled a 15-footer with just two seconds remaining, enabling the favored Saints to nip a persistent Bruins contingent, 47-46.
"It felt real good when it left my hands," said McCloud, who poured in a game-high 18 points in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.
"It wasn't really a designed play or anything.They just wanted me to get the ball and shoot. They had been double-teaming me for most of the game, so I knew they'd key on me."
"We definitely wanted to get the ball to him in the end," St. Mary's coach Jim Sheehan said. "We just wanted to isolate him and let him go, because he's the type of kid who wants the ball in that type of situation."
Said Johnson: "We came out in a 1-3-1 to try and confuse them. I think they were confused at the beginning of the play, but somehow the man got the ball, and we were right in his face, but he hit thejumper anyway. What can you do."
Just 15 seconds before the game-winner, Park (2-12 overall, 2-4 conference) had taken a 46-45 lead onan 18-foot jumper by Fred Roby. Roby's bucket would be the second and last time the Bruins would hold the lead. (His 15-footer had given them their first advantage with 1:31 left in the final period).
"Ithought Fred played real well, he gave his best effort," said Johnson of his athletic forward, who led his team in scoring (13 points) and rebounds (11).
St. Mary's (5-9 overall, 4-1 conference) led by nine points with a minute left in the third quarter, but Josh Carlin's3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining cut the advantage to six at the start of the final stanza.
Park then ran off six additional pointsin succession to knot the affair at 40-40 with 4:10 remaining.
"We expected a tough game from them," said Sheehan. "We've been struggling all season long offensively, and obviously today's game was no exception."
In the game's opening minutes, the hosts ran a methodic,semi-effective offensive attack led by Mike Greenlee, who had half of his 10 points during the first quarter.
But after watching the Saints lead by as many as eight points (13-5), the Bruins climbed to within two. Forward Koran Christian (12 points) burned the nets for all 11 (including three 3-pointers) of his team's points in the period.
"It wasn't that we didn't move the ball well," Sheehan said. "We did a good job of working it around and locating the open man. We even did a good job of feeding the low post. But our big man (Rory Kiernan) had a terrible day as far as shooting the ball. Thank goodness Charlie McCloud had a good day. He wound up saving the ballgame for us."
Even with a subpar performance on the offensive end (13 points, four under his 17-per-game average), Kiernan anchored the Saints on the boards, earning game-high honors with 13. St. Mary's enjoyed a 38-30 rebounding margin.
The Saints went into intermission with a 28-24 lead, thanks to McCloud's jumper off the glass 12 seconds remaining.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but we'll take it," Sheehan said.