No. 14 Atholton needed overtime to do it, but the Raiders finally won their own Central Maryland Tournament with an 81-77 victory over Sherwood of Montgomery County yesterday.
"This is the first time we won our own tournament, and it took a lot of strides the last few years to get here," said Atholton coach Jim Albert, who had watched Montgomery County teams win the tournament title the past three years.
Down 73-71 with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Atholton senior forward Nat Watkins (nine points) drove to the basket, but his shot bounced off the rim into the hands of D.J. Chiles (17 points, 11 rebounds).
"We ran a triangle-and-three with the big man setting a screen down in the lane for a shot in the key. I really expected to be fouled on the play," said Chiles. "It was my chance to make up for my poor first-half performance."
Chiles' layup just beat the buzzer, and the game headed into overtime tied at 73. In overtime, 6-foot-4 senior forward Varian Harvey's basket with 1:57 left gave the Raiders the lead for good, 77-75. Chiles was 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in overtime.
Atholton had raced out to a 41-31 halftime lead behind tournament Most Valuable Player Brian Benden, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the half.
But the Raiders faltered in the third quarter, as Sherwood put together a 12-1 run to take a 52-48 lead.
"But we got some solid play off the bench during that critical stretch," Albert said.
"I think it was important for us to show confidence in those kids at that juncture. This game was a great opportunity for the kids to learn how to recapture their composure late in a game."
Atholton (7-0) remained close in the second half despite committing 22 turnovers, as Harvey produced a tournament-record 15 rebounds to go along with 20 points.
In the consolation game, Magruder of Montgomery County defeated Wilde Lake, 65-56, despite a 24-point, seven-rebound effort from Wildecats 6-6 junior center Carl Jackson.
Wilde Lake (2-4) struggled at the foul line, converting 10 of 24, but was able to cut the Colonels' lead to three late in the fourth quarter.