Less than one week ago, McDonogh guard Donta Evans lived the dream of every backyard basketball player, nailing an acrobatic scoop shot at the buzzer to beat Severn in the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title game.
After that grueling contest, the 5-foot-10 senior thought he'd seen the last of the 13th-ranked Admirals.
But tonight, the two rivals once again will duel for a championship -- this time in the MSA Independent Schools Tournament at Gilman.
Last night in the semifinal round, second-seeded Severn (22-3) looked sharp in beating defending tournament champion Gilman, 88-69. Then the top-seeded Eagles (15-4), ranked 12th, struggled before disposing of fourth-seeded John Carroll, 62-41, the nightcap.
The rematch takes place at 8 tonight at Gilman's Finney Athletic Center. It will mark the first time in the tournament's seven-year history that Gilman will not play in the final.
The Greyhounds (15-8) -- five-time tourney champions -- and John Carroll (8-11) will play in the consolation game at 6.
"We knew it would come down to either them [Severn] or Gilman," said Evans, who led his team with 26 points last night. "In a way, it's good that we get to play them again. We've each won a game [against each other], and this will show who's really the best team."
John Carroll played evenly with McDonogh for much of the game, trailing 38-37 with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
McDonogh finally broke free late in the quarter, turning up the pressure on defense and scoring 13 of the next 15 to win going away.
"We got more patient, took better shots and played very good man-to-man defense," said McDonogh coach Albie Swartz of his team's late run.
The Patriots were held without a field goal for the final 5:42.
Swartz said he's wary of tonight's final, though not overly concerned.
"I told our team, 'Don't think that anybody can come back and beat us for the league title. We've already won that,' " said Swartz. "This is just another tournament we can win, but even if we don't, we're still league champs.
"This is a whole new ballgame.
The other one is finished."
For Severn, however, the game offers one last chance at redemption.
"It was really important to us to get another shot [at McDonogh]," said Severn guard Alhamisi Simms, who led all scorers with 33 points yesterday. "We wanted to win the B Conference championship. We didn't do that, so we set our minds on coming in here and winning this tournament. It will be nice to get another shot at them."
The Admirals looked sharp in yesterday's win, pulling away from Gilman with a 17-2 third-quarter run, then hitting 19 of 25 foul shots in the final 6:05 to seal the victory.
Severn shot 49 percent from the field, while its aggressive man-to-man defense held the Greyhounds to below 35 percent.
The Admirals will need a similar effort tonight for a chance to beat McDonogh.
The teams split two games this season.
In the first, Severn rallied from a 12-point deficit to win, 62-60, after stealing the ball from Evans and scoring in the final seconds.
In the other, Evans redeemed himself by hitting the game-winner.
Said Severn coach Wayne Fowler: "McDonogh's a great team. Do we want to play them? Oh, yeah, we want to play them. We've earned the right to meet them again."