Southern beaten at buzzer

February 02, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

So much for Southern-Baltimore's claim to the nation's No. 1 high school boys basketball ranking.

The area's No. 1 team, ranked No. 2 in this week's USA Today Super 25, was stunned by host and metro area No. 3 Southwestern, 71-70, yesterday before a capacity crowd of more than 500.

Senior forward Aaron Jolly threw up a 23-foot jumper from left of the arc that banked in as time expired, setting off a wild celebration by Sabers players and fans, who stormed the court.

"The only thing that was going through my mind was that I was going to hit that shot," said Jolly, who had no other points. "The game was tight, and there was no way we were going to lose this one."

The Sabers (13-0, 4-0) had a 68-63 advantage with 2:01 remaining in regulation before Southern went in front 70-68 on a jumper by Kevin Simpson with 3.2 seconds left. Southwestern called timeout with 2.2 seconds to play.

When play resumed, Donnie Joy threw the inbounds pass down the left sideline to an open Jolly, who turned around and threw up the jumper that caromed off the glass into the basket.

"When he caught it, I knew he would get a good shot because he's left-handed," said Joy, a 6-foot-6 senior. "When he did and squared up, and I saw it go up. . . . I didn't know he was going to hit it. But when it hit off the glass and went in, I was happy."

Said a hoarse Southwestern coach Terry Leverett: "The play was designed for either Aaron or Kevin [Waters]. One would go one side of the arc and one to the other. The pass was to go to who was open, catch it, not dribble, square up, look at the basket and shoot."

Junior swingman Ernie Evans led Southwestern with 16 points, and Haywood Eaddy added 14 and nine assists. Simpson led all scorers with 31 points for Southern (11-1, 3-1), and Damon Cason added 20.

The Sabers' victory ended the state's longest winning streak at 25games and avenged a 69-55 loss to the Bulldogs in last season's Class 3A regional semifinals. Until yesterday, Southern's last defeat was a 60-54 setback to Dunbar of Washington on Jan. 16, 1993 in the Charm City Classic.

At last weekend's Classic, Southern won the Southeast bracket championship with wins over Simon Gratz of Philadelphia, then ranked No. 6 nationally, and then-No. 1 and unbeaten Rice of New York.

"Hey, what can you say?" said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "He just turned around and threw up a 'Hail Mary' and it went in. I'm pleased with the way we fought back and showed a lot of character."

Trailing 58-52 entering the final quarter, the Bulldogs closed to within 64-63 on a three-pointer by Cason. The Sabers got a layup by Antoine Mayo after a pass from Eaddy. After misses by both teams, Southern turned over the ball and Waters hit a layup for a 68-63 Sabers lead.

Cason came right back with his sixth three-pointer of the game, closing Southwestern's margin to 68-66. The Bulldogs got the ball back after a traveling violation by Waters. Simpson followed his own miss and scored, tying the game at 68 with 1:42 left in regulation.

With 1:35 left, Mike Wise fouled Eaddy, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. Cason grabbed the rebound with 1:21 remaining. The Bulldogs ran down the clock to about seven seconds, then Simpson went around Eaddy into the lane and hit a short jumper from five feet with 3.2 seconds left.

"We just wanted to come in here and play real hard," said Simpson, whose team led 39-30 at halftime. "We wanted to win this game because they beat us in here last year, and we came in here really focused.

We kind of let down in the second half and they came back and won."

Three seasons ago, on its home court, Southwestern led Dunbar, then ranked No. 1 in the nation, for more than three quarters before the Poets rallied for the victory. Yesterday, the Sabers didn't let the opportunity slip away.

"What I liked about them today is when I saw them in school, I didn't see any playing or joking around," said Leverett. "They were walking around the hallway with serious looks on their faces. They were on a mission."

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