There were moments that needed no words after the buzzer sounded last night at Gilman as No. 19 St. Paul's defeated No. 15 Severn, 64-62, for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship.
One moment was St. Paul's senior Justin Singleton hugging his father, Ken, a former Orioles star, in a corner away from the Crusaders' celebration.
Another was Severn's Dennard Melton sprawled on the floor after his drive to the basket -- for a tie -- missed with two seconds left.
And, there was St. Paul's coach Rick Collins sitting, moments after the final horn, holding back tears now that his last game as coach was over.
The Crusaders made good on their season-long promise to send him off to retirement with a fifth league championship in 11 seasons as coach and a record of 201-80.
Singleton scored 20 points to lead St. Paul's (21-6). Adair Newhall added 12 and Mike Satyshur had 11. For Severn (19-5), Melton scored a game-high 23 points, including 15 in the final quarter, and Jeff Hatch contributed 16.
"We didn't have the best talent in the league," said Collins, whose added administrative responsibilities at St. Paul's and wanting to spend time watching his daughter play basketball at Cornell were his reasons for stepping down.
"The kids just worked hard together," he continued. "I was just praying that whatever the outcome was, God meant it to be, but I knew that we worked as hard as possible."
In winning its second consecutive MIAA B Conference championship, St. Paul's completed the season sweep over Severn. The Crusaders also won, 58-51, at St. Paul's last Friday.
"Coach kept telling us all season, 'Don't do this for me. This is for the team,' " said Satyshur, a junior point guard. "I don't know if this was a treat, but we knew we could do this for him and send him out on a high note."
What St. Paul's hoped to be a storybook ending almost turned into a stunning disaster, though.
Severn rallied from an eight-point deficit with 39 seconds remaining to close within 64-62 with 10 seconds left after Melton connected on a three-pointer from the corner.
Then, Satyshur missed both free throws of a bonus one-and-one with seven seconds left, and Melton grabbed the rebound. He quickly worked his way to the basket, but his shot hit the front of the rim.
"When I went down the lane and shot, I knew it would be short," said Melton, a 5-foot-11 junior point guard. "I was hoping to get a roll, but it didn't happen."
After being quiet for most of the first three quarters and his team down by as many as 14 points in the second half, Melton brought the Admirals back, pulling them to 57-55 with 1: 45 remaining in the regulation.
Two free throws each from Conor Gill, Newhall and Singleton built St. Paul's lead back to 63-55 with 39 seconds left. Baskets by Jeff Haskins and Melton made it 63-59 with 26 seconds remaining.
After Newhall hit one of two free throws for a five-point Crusader advantage, Melton missed a shot but got the ball back and drained a three-pointer from the right corner, making it 64-62.
"If I'm going down and Melton gets the ball, I like my chances," said Severn coach Charles Duckett, whose team lost in the finals for the second straight year. "We started off slow, and they made some shots. Our defense was a little porous early."
St. Paul's was able to exploit the baseline for scoring opportunities and play strong defense on Melton and the 6-8 Hatch while building a 38-26 halftime margin.
The Crusaders were able to maintain its double-digit lead for most of the third quarter despite managing only five field goals in the second half.
But Severn began showing signs of a rally, getting to within 48-40 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.
Pub Date: 2/22/97