Close to history
St. Charles falls in overtime of 3A South section final
So close. All that stood between the St. Charles Spartans boys basketball team and its first regional champi- onship game appearance was 7.2 seconds as the visiting Potomac Wolverine prepared to inbound the ball, trailing the Spartans 61-59, in Thursday night’s Class 3A South Region Section II final.
The Spartans made it through all but the last few tenths of the time, but Potomac’s Jason Newman’s layup as time expired sent the game to overtime where the Wol- verines ultimately prevailed 78-67.
Potomac (17-7 overall) defeated Magruder of Montgomery County 8164 in the 3A South champi- onship game on Saturday.
Prior to Newman’s game-tying drive to the bucket, St. Charles’ Shi- loh Beale had converted a pair of free throws to give the hosts the two-point edge in what had been a back-and-forth second half. But, following a tim- eout, Newman took the inbounds pass and took the ball straight down the court and ultimately went to the hoop for a sea- son-saving shot.
It was the second consecutive game Newman found himself in that posi- tion at the end of regulation, as just two days prior in the section semifinals he was fouled going for a layup with just a half-sec- ond left at Huntingtown. In that situation he hit 1 of 2 free throws to lift the Wolverines to a one-point win. On Thursday, his bucket to close out the fourth quarter sent the game to an overtime ses- sion his team dominated.
“We had planned to get the ball to [Travis Hen- son] for the game-win- ning three, but there were on it heavy,” Newman said of the play at the fourth quarter’s end, “so I took the opportunity to attack the basket and get to my strength.”
Back at the game’s start, Gary Robertson’s three-pointer just min- utes into the game gave Potomac an early 5-2 lead. From that point, the visitors never relented the lead until Anthony Bowman’s basket with 4 minutes 25 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Spartans their first lead, 37-36.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Potomac had retaken the lead and extended it to 55-48, but Beale scored six straight points to pull the Spar- tans to within 55-54. Later, Merwan Mourtaj drove the baseline and banked in a layup to put the hosts in front 59-57. But Henson tied the game for the Wol- verines with 42 seconds left to set up the dramatic end to regulation.
In overtime, Bowman scored first to put St. Charles in front 63-61, but Christian Dyches immediately responded with a three for Potomac. St. Charles leapfrogged back in front on Marshawn Hall’s bucket on the ensuing possession, but Robertson later answered with a basket to put the Wolverines back in front, 66-65.
Potomac went on to score the next seven points to put the game away.
Robertson led Potomac with 23 points and Henson scored 17, while Dyches and Newman each scored 10.
“We’re just coming together as a family, getting closer and closer,” Dyches said. “Every game before we play we pray . ... We just stick together and play as a team.”
After the team survived its second straight test on the road, Robertson felt the team was only building its strength in its quest for the 3A state championship. He also said the team is motivated to succeed for head coach Renard Johnson, who has not been with the team.
“As we go on from game to game our bond gets stronger,” he said. “Most importantly we have two goals in mind. One, win the whole thing. And two, every game we play is for Coach Johnson. Even in his absence he makes us stronger. Every hump, every bruise, makes us stronger and stronger ever y time.”
Beale scored a gamehigh 33 points, and made 19 of 20 free throws, to lead the St. Charles effort against Potomac.
“Obviously the freethrow line is a big em- phasis,” St. Charles head coach Brett Campbell said. “Every free throw we take in practice mat- ters because every free throw you take in a game matters. We don’t just shoot them to shoot them. He’s always worked real hard in practice and obvi- ously it’s reflected in what he did tonight.”
Supplementing Beale’s effort, Hall added nine points, while Bowman and Mourtaj each scored six. But when the game reached crunch time the Spartans were not able to prevent the Wolverines from scoring.
“We couldn’t get stops,” Campbell said. “Starting with that very last play [of regulation] on through overtime. Our identity all season and since this school has been open has been playing defense. They hit some shots, credit to them.”
Despite the disappoint- ment of Thursday night’s result, Campbell was still pleased with what his program has accomplished.
“We couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” he said. “Two years ago our program didn’t even exist. For our seniors to take us to where we’re at now, what they’ve done on and off the court, 3.5 team GPA, just about all of them on the honor roll, we couldn’t ask more out of this group of guys . ... We have nothing to hang our heads about. The guys have played hard. The program is headed in the right direction. We always tell the guys, ‘Leave the jersey in a better place,’ That’s exactly what our senior class has done.”
St. Charles’ Shiloh Beale, left, is encouraged by teammates before going to the free-throw line with 7.2 seconds remaining in the Spartans’ Class 3A South Region Section II final with visiting Potomac on Thursday night. Beale, who scored a game-high 33 points, drained both to give the Spartans a two-point lead, but Potomac came back to force overtime and eventually topped the Spartans 78-67.