Michael Watson of St. Paul's scored only four points in last night's Independent Schools Tournament semifinal against Severn.
But it was the final three that both teams will remember.
With St. Paul's trailing 48-47, Watson stole the ball following a missed shot, turned and fired a prayer from 20 feet out that bounced off the back of the iron and fell in at the buzzer to give the third-seeded Crusaders a dramatic 50-48 win and advance them to tonight's final.
There, they'll meet tournament host and fourth seed Gilman, a 69-63 upset winner in the second game over top-seeded No. 17 McDonogh (12-7), tonight at 8. The Greyhounds (9-16) have won the tournament every year since its inception in 1988.
Gilman raced to a 7-0 lead and never trailed the Eagles, who had trounced the Greyhounds, 78-57, three weeks ago at McDonogh.
This time Gilman used the inside power of Victor Carter-Bey (22 points) and the hot shooting of Ronnie Crockett (14 points), Ted Russell (14) and Cheo Hurley (eight) to down the Eagles. The Greyhounds also employed several zone defenses to slow McDonogh's backcourt of Ayinde Stewart (11 points), Donta Evans (five) and Todd Borz (nine).
McDonogh rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to get within 66-63 with 28 seconds left, but Carter-Bey hit three of four foul shots in the final 28 seconds.
"The home court had a lot to do with it," said Gilman coach Tim Holley. "We haven't lost a home game to a private school here in three years. We were very confident. I think they were as unnerved here as we were over there."
For St. Paul's, victory was equally big.
"This was easily the biggest shot I've ever had," said Watson. "I saw they were going to pass to the guy on the wing, and I stole it out of his hands. As soon as I grabbed it, I just turned around and shot."
Severn (15-5) had led 46-39 with just more than four minutes left before the Crusaders (14-8) went on an 11-2 run to finish the game.
"We've been in some exciting ones," said St. Paul's coach Rick Collins, "but this was as dramatic a comeback as we've had."