Bullis seals deal, cap­tures league, tour­na­ment ti­tles

BULLIS 63, ST. AL­BANS 61

The Washington Post Sunday - - ALL METSPORTS.COM - BY BRAN­DON PARKER bran­don.parker@wash­post.com

“This one is spe­cial be­cause it’s hard to do what we did, go­ing un­de­feated through the con­fer­ence and stay­ing fo­cused. ”

Bruce Kel­ley, Bullis coach

An­thony Thompson drib­bled slowly at the top of the key, his eyes dart­ing back and forth be­tween the ex­pir­ing clock and the St. Al­bans de­fense. An iso­la­tion play had been called for the Bullis se­nior but with the score knot­ted at eight and the mo­men­tum in flux dur­ing the first quar­ter of Satur­day’s In­ter­state Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, Thompson had other plans.

“I knew when­ever I at­tacked, they would col­lapse on me,” Thompson said. “So I just waited for the right moment, drove and kicked it to Aaron [Briggs] and I knew he would knock it down.”

The se­quence re­sulted in a four-point play that swung the mo­men­tum. The No. 10 Bulldogs kept charg­ing in the sec­ond quar­ter en route to a 63- 61 win in Po­tomac. The vic­tory marked Bullis’s sec­ond straight IAC tour­na­ment ti­tle and punc­tu­ated the first per­fect run through IAC reg­u­lar sea­son and tour­na­ment play.

“This one is spe­cial be­cause it’s hard to do what we did, go­ing un­de­feated through the con­fer­ence and stay­ing fo­cused while ev­ery­one is telling you how good you are,” Bullis Coach Bruce Kel­ley said. “So, the men­tal as­pect of keep­ing it to­gether really speaks to the type of team this is.”

St. Al­bans did all it could to threaten Bullis’s run at per­fec­tion, jump­ing out to a quick lead in the first four min­utes. That’s when Bullis (23- 4) got hot from the out­side, with Briggs’s four-point play serv­ing as one of three long-range buck­ets dur­ing a 15- 0 run in the sec­ond quar­ter.

“Those threes played a big role for us,” said Briggs, who fin­ished with nine points. “I feel like if we hadn’t hit those, we could have lost the game.”

Af­ter Thompson (15 points) hit a three to make it 31-20 at half­time, St. Al­bans’ Michael Sniezek kept his team com­pet­i­tive by scor­ing its first nine points of the third pe­riod. But for ev­ery shot he hit, Bullis had an an­swer, go­ing up by as many as 16 mid­way through the quar­ter when Briggs nailed his sec­ond three of the game.

Shaky free-throw shoot­ing by Bullis (7 for 13 in the fourth quar­ter) and a flurry of points by Bran­don Gal­loway (10 of his 15 points) helped St. Al­bans (15-9) close the gap in the fi­nal minute. A put­back and two free throws by Lloyd How­ell made it 62-59 with five sec­onds re­main­ing, but Rus­sell-Sang­ster hit one of two free throws to seal yet an­other IAC crown for Bullis.

“To weather the storm of strug­gling early in the year to this game, when we had to fight to the last sec­ond, it’s spe­cial to win this year,” said Thompson, the cham­pi­onship net dan­gling from his neck. “It feels real good to end my high school ca­reer like this.”

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