Melton rises to occasion in Severn win Junior leads comeback over St. Mary's, 53-51

Boys basketball/MIAA B

February 21, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Please excuse Severn's Denard Melton if he looks a bit crooked today.

For the final nine minutes of last night's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference semifinal, the junior carried the weight of the 15th-ranked Admirals on his back.

Melton scored all but two of his game-high 18 points in that stretch, including the game-winner -- a spinning layup with five seconds left -- to carry Severn to a 53-51 win over St. Mary's at Gilman School.

"I didn't want our season to end today," said Melton, "so I took it upon my shoulders and carried the team as best I could.

"We played good team defense," he continued, "and that's how our run started at the end."

The victory propels the Admirals (19-4), winners of 18 of their last 19, into today's 5 p.m. championship game against St. Paul's, the team they lost to in last year's title game.

Getting there, however, required some late-game heroics by Melton.

Trailing by five points with 3: 44 to go, Severn made one final surge. After four straight foul shots by Melton, the Admirals took the lead when the point guard found Winston Johnson for a layup to make it 49-48 with 3: 10 to play.

Then, with his team trailing by one with under a minute left, Melton hit two more foul shots to give Severn a 51-50 lead. St. Mary's tied it, but then committed a turnover with 26 seconds left. Melton seized the opportunity, taking his man one-on-one and beating him down the lane for the game-winner.

The junior scored eight of his team's final 10 points, and got the assist on the other bucket.

"We had him under control. Then he just started driving the lanes," said St. Mary's coach Roger Reed. "I've seen him play ever since he was 9 years old, and he's one of those kids that just seems to rise to the top. He has a champion heart."

Said Severn coach Charles Duckett: "Like I tell people, there's no better point guard around. Once he hits a certain spark, you need a major Division I player to shut him down, because he's that good."

He had to be. Through the first three quarters, the Admirals shot 28 percent from the field, and hit just six of 15 free throws. The Saints (19-10), meanwhile, looked tough.

Paced by forwards D.J. Dauses (15 points) and S.J. Womack, St. Mary's held a slim lead for much of the second half.

But with good defense, and the scoring of Johnson (12), Greg Cooper (10) and Jeff Hatch (nine), the Admirals kept it close, and gave themselves a chance to win.

Now the task turns to St. Paul's -- a team that's had plenty of luck against Severn. Last season, the Crusaders ended an 11-game winning Admirals' streak with a five-point victory in the finals. This season, they stopped the Admirals' 16-game win streak.

"It's turned into a great rivalry," said Duckett. "Hopefully, it's our turn to beat them. It should be a great game."

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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