Severn took the lead only once during yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference matchup at McDonogh School's Memorial Field House.
And it couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
Junior John Vereen's breakaway layup with two seconds remaining gave Severn its first lead and lifted the No. 15 Admirals to a 66-64 win over unranked McDonogh, which led by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter.
Vereen finished with a game-high 26 points, including 11 in the momentum-shifting fourth quarter.
"We haven't played in any close games yet this year, and that was evident tonight," said McDonogh coach Albie Schwartz, whose team will have another shot at the Admirals when they meet them in their regular-season finale Feb. 11.
"We didn't handle the pressure well down the stretch and we didn't make good decisions. But that's not taking anything away from Severn because they are a good team and No. 23 [Vereen] couldn't miss in the fourth quarter."
Actually, Vereen did miss one shot in that quarter, but he scored on the follow-up and cut the lead to 55-47. He later nailed a three-pointer with 3:01 left to bring the Admirals within five and hit a jumper the next time down the floor to make it 63-60 with 2:19 remaining.
The Admirals (14-2, 6-0) knotted the score at 64-64 with 1:05 left on a shot by Alhamisi Simms (12 points).
The Eagles (4-4, 4-1) wanted the ball in the hands of senior guard Donta Evans for their last shot. Evans, who finished with a team-high 22 points, broke for the basket with 10 seconds left but stumbled momentarily, allowing Vereen to scoop up the loose ball and race down the floor for the game-winner.
"We finally got our defense together in the fourth quarter," said Severn coach Wayne Fowler. "We did not play well in the first quarter and we set the tempo by playing poorly."
McDonogh jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter before the Admirals rallied to close within 17-14 at quarter's end.
Severn hit just one field goal in the first seven minutes of the second quarter but an 8-for-10 performance at the foul line and a three-pointer by James Carpenter in the closing seconds kept the Admirals in it at the half, 35-29.
Senior center Bobby Sabelhaus and junior Dwayne Stukes helped the Eagles widen the margin to 12 in the third quarter. Sabelhaus scored most of his 15 points by powering to the hole, and Stukes scored the bulk of his 11 by positioning himself for offensive rebounds.
Severn, which converted 17 of 20 shots from the foul line, got eight points apiece from Carpenter and Jaylonnie Booth and seven from senior Joe Burke.
"We could have lost this game by 11 points, but there's no way we could have won by 11," said Fowler. "Our team showed some character coming back, and that's why I think this team won't be denied this season."