Severn made the championship round of the Laker Invitational for the fourth consecutive year. But it wasn't easy.
The 14th-ranked Admirals struggled much of the game against host Boys' Latin, but took advantage of free-throw shooting from Jay Lonnie Booth and John Vereen to hold off the Lakers, 65-60, in a tournament semifinal last night.
Severn (4-2) will meet Gilman in today's championship game at 2:30.
The Greyhounds defeated defending champion Sidwell Friends (D.C.), 54-50, in last night's other semifinal.
Severn's offense never got going for a long period of time.
The Admirals boasted more speed and quickness than Boys' Latin (1-3) and came up with some good streaks but could not sustain them.
"We've just not been able to close this year," said Severn coach Wayne Fowler. "I don't know what it is."
Severn used a 9-0 run to take a 53-44 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Boys' Latin crept to 60-58 on a Myron Hayes layup with 30.3 seconds left.
Booth (20 points) made a one-and-one with 27.9 seconds left. Vereen then made a steal and hit the front end of a one-and-one with 19.4 seconds left.
Severn, which also got 17 points from Dennard Melton, finished with only two baskets in the fourth quarter.
The Admirals, however, came through at the free-throw line, going 10-for-12 in the final period. Vereen (five) and Booth (three) combined for eight of the free throws.
Booth repeatedly sparked Severn.
The 5-foot-9 senior guard, in addition to his crucial free throws, scored 12 of his points in the second quarter to keep the game close as the Admirals had some foul trouble.
"When we had foul trouble, I felt I had to take the game," said Booth.
But Boys' Latin made that difficult. The Lakers played tough defense and worked hard at not letting the Admirals turn the game into a track meet.
The Lakers, led by Mike DiLonardo and Wes Lovell's 12-point efforts, were hurt by foul trouble. They lost two starters in the second half.
"Our kids played hard," said Boys' Latin coach Hugh Gelston. "It's certainly the best we've played this year."
Gilman (4-0), much like Severn, used clutch free-throw shooting to seal its victory. The Greyhounds hit 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to rally from a 34-31 deficit after three quarters.
Corey Popham scored eight of his game-high 11 points in the fourth quarter. He went 8-for-8 from the line to help Gilman hold off the Sidwell Friends surge.
Gilman hit the front end of one-and-ones six out of seven times to take control.
Chris McLamb and Russell Wrenn each came up with key baskets for the Greyhounds in the fourth quarter.
The Greyhounds also benefited from tough defense.
Gilman held Sidwell Friends (0-1) without a point for the first 4:50 of the final quarter, and the Quakers never recovered.