With marquee players Jerome Goodman and Mark Jennings in deep foul trouble, sophomores Kevin Hammack and Corey Bowie stepped up for North County, and the host Knights took a 66-62 thriller over Severna Park in Ferndale last night.
Hammack led the Knights (7-4) with 19 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Bowie scored all six of his points in the final period, including a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining for the final margin of victory.
"We're playing as many players as we can and getting them up and down the court," said North County coach Mike Francis.
"Kevin [Hammack] was a little frustrated early, but he has been directing us in the fourth quarter and did again tonight."
The 6-foot-3 Bowie had seven defensive rebounds, with his last two in the final 10 seconds while Goodman and Jennings sat. And 5-9 sharpshooting senior Chuck Willis fired in 18 points, 12 via the three-pointer.
Close from start to finish in a highly up-tempo game that both coaches wanted and expected, the Knights had a 64-57 lead with 2: 20 left on a slam by Goodman. The Falcons rallied to 64-61 with 25 seconds left, sending Goodman to the sideline.
A three by Jon Garritt (19 points, four rebounds) and the sedon of two free throws by Joe Burke (11 points, four rebounds) cut the margin to three points.
Goodman, a 6-6 senior, put Burke on the line with 25 seconds left, fouling out with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Some 12 ticks later, Jennings, a 6-5 senior, took a seat next to Goodman, finishing with five points, three rebounds, three assists, a block and two steals.
Goodman and Jennings were fairly limited against the Falcons (7-4) and 6-5 Trevor Quinn after receiving their fourth fouls early in the final eight minutes.
"We stayed together as a team despite the fouls and everybody came through," Goodman said.
One of four Falcons in double digits, Quinn popped in 15 points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Point guard Derrick Dixon had 11 points.
Ramifications of the result might be felt Feb. 20 when the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association holds its annual open draw for the state tournament with the top four teams in each region seeded.
"We needed to make some foul shots, but our percentage was low [7-for-12 in final period]," said Falcons coach Paul Pellicani. "It doesn't do a whole lot to jeopardize our seeding if we take care of business down the road."