Above: (Left to right) LJ Owens had (16 points), Jermaine Hall (10) and Mo Terry (8) carried the Severn offense.

No. 14 Admirals emerge from an air-tight matchup with a 44-41 victory over defending champs

by Joe DiBlasi
After splitting two regular season games by a total differential of just one point, everyone knew Thursday’s MIAA B Conference basketball semifinal playoff game between the No. 16 St. Paul’s School and 14th-ranked would be close.
It was nip and tuck again in Severna Park, and after three ferocious quarters of play, the score was tied as both teams again played tenacious defense in another closely-contested encounter.
In the fourth quarter, LJ Owens, Jermaine Hall and
Mo Terry scored 15 of the Admirals 16 points as coach VJ Keith’s team was able to pull out a thrilling, 44-41, win over the defending MIAA B Conference champion Crusaders to advance to Sunday’s championship finals at Harford Community College.
The top-seeded Admirals (25-5 overall) will face third-seeded Gerstell Academy which advance with an equally tight, 57-55, semifinal victory over Indian Creek School. Sunday’s final at Harford Community College’s APG Federal Credit Union Arena is scheduled to tip at 3:15 p.m.
The high-scoring Owens hit a jumper at the buzzer as the first half ended, to cut an earl St. Paul’s lead to 22-16 at intermission and when the third period came to a close, Terry launched a deep three-pointer from behind the top of the key that sizzled the twine to tie the game at 28-28. Those two buzzer beaters turned out to be crucial to the Admirals eventual success.
St Paul’s Ziggy Reid, who led the Crusaders (21-10) with 16 points, made a great put back with 27 seconds to go in regulation that pulled the Crusaders to within two points, at 43-41, and he came close to making a deep jumper from behind the arc that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left, just a few seconds after Terry hit a free throw to give the Admirals a 44-41 lead.
Reid and Trayon Wright, who finished with 12 points, kept the Crusaders in the game down the stretch.
Terry, who finished with 10 points for Severn, said, “I just felt like we needed a little push in the second half because we had to pick up the energy. We didn’t want to lose to them in a semifinal for the second time in two years. We showed a lot of heart tonight.”
Owens finished with 16, and he gave the Admiral fans a scare with four minutes left in the third quarter when he turned his ankle. He left the game for two possessions and then came back strong with no after effects.
“I landed on someone’s foot when I turned the ankle but I was able to come back quickly,” said Owens, who will play at William & Mary next year. “We played hard and stuck to our game plan. They are a very good team and they showed us a lot of different pressure zone defenses. It was a lot like last year in the semifinal, but this time we were able to come out on top.”
Hall hit a big 3-pointer with 4:21 to go in regulation to give Admirals a 33-31 lead for the first time since they held a 6-5 advantage, at the three-minute mark in the first quarter.
“Jermaine hit that big three, Mo hit some big shots and played great defense,” said Severn coach VJ Keith, who was pleased with the way his squad moved the basketball. “LJ did a great job again on both ends, and AJ (Burch) was our floor leader. Those four have played together for a long time”.
St. Paul’s coach Seth Goldberg was proud of his team’s effort.
“We competed and played hard,” said Goldberg. “We just came up a little short. A couple of plays here and there could have changed the outcome. We battled back, but I take my hat off to them. Both teams had great seasons.”
ST. PAUL’S 8 14 6 13 — 41
SEVERN 6 10 12 16 — 44
ST. PAUL’S: Wright 12, Reid 16, Barthelme 5 ,Kelly 2,
Sawyer 6.
SEVERN: Owens 16, Burch 4, Hall 10 , Terry 8.
Harris 3, Birko 3.