Chapelgate Christian ends near-perfect year with title

Hamilton fuels 52-47 win vs. Lutheran for 20-1 mark

MIAA C Conference basketball

February 24, 2004|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Chapelgate Christian's Sean Hamilton called yesterday's 52-47 victory over Lutheran for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship at Gilman amazing.

The senior guard was impressive himself, especially in the final quarter, scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points and helping the Howard County school finish a perfect run in the league.

"We had to step up," said Hamilton. "Our defense wasn't doing it, our offense was off and we weren't making shots. We had to step up as a team."

Senior Paul Merena added 13 points, four rebounds and three steals for Chapelgate Christian (20-1), which lost to only B Conference Pallotti.

Paul Foelber led Lutheran with 16 points and Tafarie Griffiths had 15 and a game-high 17 rebounds.

Merena's two free throws with 7.2 seconds left clinched the win after he intercepted a Lutheran pass. During the regular season, Chapelgate Christian twice handled the Saints, by 22 and 24 points. But the third time, Lutheran (14-9) led by three points entering the final period.

Hamilton opened the quarter with a game-tying three-pointer, then gave his team the lead for good on a strong drive.

"At the end of the game, he's the guy I wanted to have the ball," said Chapelgate Christian coach John Schuit. " ... We knew we had to win it all at this point or it would be disappointing."

Two free throws by Hamilton gave Chapelgate Christian a 49-44 lead with :47.2 left, then Griffiths hit a three-point play. Hamilton added another foul shot before Merena's steal.

"I thought we were ready this time," said Lutheran coach Tom Lentsch. "I thought we played a great defensive game. This time, we believed in ourselves."

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