Sabres lose to Key in championship game
BEL AIR — Coming into Sunday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association’s C Conference championship, hosted by Harford Community College, Saints Peter and Paul High boys’ basketball team had a lot to defend.
In addition to being the reigning conference champs, the Sabres couldn’t afford to lose this, of all games, against an Obezags squad they had swept during a home-and-away season series.
The Sabres opened with a big bucket, Conor Mullaney nailing his first three-point try of the night just three seconds into play.
But the Sabres held that opening lead for just over a minute, and fell behind 4-3 on a Michael Jackson bucket 2 1/2 minutes into play.
Saints Peter and Paul never got the lead back, eventually losing to the team they beat in the conference final in two of the last three years, 53-42.
“We stopped executing,” Sabres coach Jeff Hollis said; his team finished the season 15-10. “We stopped running our stuff. And I think the moment of the game got a little too big for us.”
The Obezags — named after the gazebos found all over the school’s campus, reversed — went on a 13-7 opening-period run, and stretched their lead to 22-14 at halftime; Jimmy Holland, who led his team with 15 points, had six by the break, with four other teammates scoring as well.
Saints Peter and Paul, which finished just 13-for47 (17.6 percent) from the floor, was 2-for-9 (22 percent) from inside the arc, and 2-for-11 (18 percent) outside of it in the first half. Compounding the team’s flat first half were 11 turnovers.
But, in the locker room between halves, Hollis got the team motivated by reminding them that ever yone has peaks and valleys on the court, and that they had weathered them before.
“We’ve been here before. I mean, we struggled a lot earlier in the season. It wasn’t anything we hadn’t been through before,” Hollis said. “We just had to struggle through it . ... We just didn’t end up making the plays again.”
The Sabres opened the second half looking like the defending champs, though, a pair of three-pointers by Lamont Powell Jr (gamehigh 19 points) fueling an 8-0 rally that tied the game three minutes into the third.
The Obezags, despite bending, did not break, though; Holland broke the tie with a layup 20 seconds later, and Amari Kelly’s bucket off an inbounds pass with 4:25 to go in the third began a 10-4 run that capped the third period.
The Obezags led by as many as 14 points down the stretch, SSPP coming no closer than eight points, at 42-35, after a Powell bucket-and-1 with 3:49 left on the clock.
Sophomore Elijah Jenkins, who wore glasses but lost them on a fourth-quarter possession, handling it by kicking them out of bounds and proceeding gamely downcourt, had a doubledouble in the win, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Tyrese Purnell of the Sabres had one as well, finishing with 12 points and 10 boards. Kelly chipped in 10 points in the win.
The victory by the Obezags also evened up a recent series both squads can be proud of: they’ve met in the MIAA-C final four years running, each team winning twice.
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In a battle between the teams’ leading scorers in Sunday’s MIAA-C conference championship game, Saints Peter and Paul’s Lamont Powell marks up on defense against Key School guard Jimmy Holland. Powell’s 19 was a game-high, while Holland’s 15 was the best for the Obezags, who took the title game, 53-42, at Harford Community College.