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by Ben­nett, which put the Clip­pers ahead 28-24 at half­time.

Per­haps as much a fac­tor as the Lions miss­ing shots, Be­craft said, was how Ben­nett (1-3) kept com­ing at the ball, con­test­ing al­most ev­ery pass and putting heavy man and zone pres­sure on its guests. The heavy back-and-forth was re­flected in more than 20 to­tal fouls called on the two teams be­fore in­ter­mis­sion.

“They played with a lot of of in­ten­sity up and down the floor, and they found the big guys,” Be­craft said. “They hit some big shots. Really, to be hon­est with you, we scratched and clawed just to get back in it, and I’m proud of that.”

As the third quar­ter pro­gressed, the Lions, who shot 10 for 24 (41.7 per­cent) be­fore the break, got a lit­tle warmer. Down as much as nine, at 41-32 with 4:05 to go in the third, Queen Anne’s kept at it, and Nick Dunkerly stepped up.

Hit­ting three short shots and a 3-pointer, Dunkerly put in 10 of his 11 points on the night in the third. His fi­nal bucket of the pe­riod, off a Mon­roe feed, put Queen Anne’s up 46-45 with 1:24 to go. Mor­ton re­sponded 40 se­conds later with a buck­e­tand-1 to put Ben­nett ahead 48-46 go­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

Ben­nett used an 8-2 run to stretch its lead to 56-48, with 3:48 to go, but then the Lions, who had scored on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions just twice in the first 28 min­utes, be­gan to play with a lit­tle con­sis­tency.

Tyrik Brooks’s 3-pointer with 3:38 to play be­gan the fi­nal push by the Lions. Brought in for de­fen­sive help, he’d even­tu­ally score eight key points off the bench.

Jameer Richard­son hit a jumper 20 se­conds later to make it a three-point game. Ben­nett hit a sin­gle free throw, and then Brooks missed the front end of a 1-and-1 be­fore Charles Hyn­son (11 points) sank a layup off a Mon­roe pass to nar­row the deficit to 57-55 in Ben­nett’s fa­vor.

Richard­son banged home a trey with 1:34 to go, putting the Lions up 59-57; it would turn out to be the game’s sixth and fi­nal lead change. Richard­son then hit the sec­ond of a pair of free throws to put his team up three with 1:07 re­main­ing.

A pos­ses­sion mo­ments later, which saw two missed Clip­per 3-point­ers, even­tu­ally led to Mor­ton, fouled while driv­ing to the rack, at the char­ity stripe. He missed both free throws.

Richard­son, fouled on the third Lion shot of the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, made his two free throws with 45.5 se­conds left.

Up 62-57, the Lions looked good.

“We felt like we had a lit­tle breath­ing room,” Be­craft said, “but then they hit that three.”

Bring­ing the ball in­bounds af­ter the Richard­son shots, Ben­nett got the ball to Jamy­ron Can­non. Shoot­ing just 2 for 7 over­all and 0 for 3 from down­town be­fore that point, Can­non nailed the trey to pull the hosts to within 62-60.

Sin­gle free-throw hits by Brooks and Mon­roe in the next 21 se­conds put the Lions up four. Ben­nett got the ball back af­ter the last hit, by Mon­roe with 9.4 ticks left on the clock.

Be­craft called his fourth time­out of the sec­ond half to re­mind play­ers not to put too many hands on Ben­nett shoot­ers who, likely to start jack­ing threes, would get three free throws if fouled be­yond the arc.

Need­ing a mi­nor mir­a­cle, Ben­nett nearly got it.

Dashiell went up for a shot from the left side with 4.2 se­conds to go, and a hand on him by Brooks was whis­tled a per­sonal foul, send­ing the Ben­nett guard to the free throw line for three shots.

The call came as the shot flew down, inches from catas­tro­phe for the Lions.

Had Dashiell made the 3-point shot, he’d have re­ceived a free throw to tie it. But the ball clanged off the rim, the bounce, as it hap­pened, giv­ing the Lions just enough breath­ing room for the win, though they didn’t know it yet.

“We’d just called time­out and went over that but that’s kids. He made a mis­take; he’ll learn from it,” said Be­craft of the foul . “But, I also re­minded him, that he hit a 3-pointer from the cor­ner, and if he hadn’t have hit that, we wouldn’t have won.

“So it’s in per­spec­tive. It’s a mis­take, and he shouldn’t have made it,” Be­craft con­tin­ued, “but he’s a kid, he made it, and without him we wouldn’t have won, foul or not.”

Dashiell made all three shots to pull Ben­nett to within 64-63. But it was a mixed bless­ing. The fi­nal shot go­ing in meant the Lions would get the ball out of bounds, and Ben­nett would have to steal it, or foul and hope to get a re­bound and last-sec­ond shot on the other end. Had Dashiell missed, the Clip­pers would’ve had at least a chance for the re­bound, un­der their own rim, rather than from 84 feet away.

The Clip­pers couldn’t steal the in­bounds pass, which went to La­mont Downs. Ben­nett fouled in­ten­tion­ally with 2.9 se­conds left.

Downs missed both free throws, and Ben­nett came down with the re­bound on the sec­ond one, but couldn’t hit a last-sec­ond throw from 70 feet down­court.

“They fought,” Be­craft said. “They bat­tled through a tough run, and that’s what mat­ters most. Mikey had a good night, 18 points and a bunch of as­sists. Charles [Hyn­son] had 11, Nick Dunkerly, who played good late for us, and that’s im­por­tant, he had 11 also. Charles [who had four fouls for the fi­nal five min­utes of play] was able to play through foul trou­ble, and that was big.

“Jameer Richard­son, he really stepped up for us, had some im­por­tant points,” Be­craft added. “And Tyrik did a good job in the 1-2-2 trap I put on, plus he had some big points in the last cou­ple of min­utes.”

The Lions are off un­til Dec. 26, when they take on Saints Peter and Paul at 6:15 p.m. at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege in the Over­time Live Hol­i­day tour­na­ment. Ben­nett’s last game be­fore Christ­mas is on Wed­nes­day at home at 5:30 p.m. against Snow Hill. Fol­low me on Twit­ter:


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