Crusaders upset No. 12 Severn snapping the Admiral’s 14 game win streak

Clutch performers: Trayon Wright (left) hit two key free throws and AJ Sawyer sank a 3-pointer as St. Paul’s held off Severn in the fourth quarter.

by Joe DiBlasi

Just when defending champion St. Paul’s appeared to be fading from this winter’s MIAA B Conference basketball title chase, the Crusaders traveled to No. 12 Severn, the league’s hottest team, shrugged off some recent struggles and upset the Admirals, 60-58, in a Saturday afternoon matinee.

The Crusaders (10-7 overall, 3-3 MIAA B) did it with a red-hot start, which saw them race out to a 22-7 first quarter, and withstood a furious fourth quarter rally by Severn (14-3 overall, 4-1 MIAA B), snapping the Admirals’ 14 game winning streak and handing them their first conference loss this season.

St. Paul’s veteran coach Seth Goldberg said it was a complete team effort that produced the win.

“Our guys really came ready to compete,” said Goldberg. “They shared the ball well, made some tough plays, and we had help from the bench.”

Goldberg could not point to any one individual after such a strong team effort. He mentioned top notch contributions from Ziggy Reid, Trayon Wright, A.J. Sawyer, Jon Walker and John Billups off the bench.

St. Paul’s Troy Barthelme hit some tough shots inside, and he finished with 10 points, while Sawyer led the Crusaders with 16 points, Reid had 15, and Wright added 11.

St. Paul’s held the lead for the first 30 minutes of the contest, before the Admirals got a reverse layup from Mo Terry with 2:01 to go in the game that put coach VJ Keith’s team ahead 54-53.

The Crudsaders answered the Severn run with clutch shootting from Wright, Sawyer, and Leo Kelly.

Severn’s Terry led all scorers with 21 points, and he was the only Admiral to score in the opening quarter (with seven points). LJ Owens finished with 20 points and Jermaine Hall had 11.

The Crusaders played an aggressive 2-3 zone designed to hold down the high scoring Owens, who was limited to just five first-half points, before he crammed in 15 second half points to get the Admirals back in the game. Terry and Owens combined for 25 second half points, but St. Paul’s answered late on a huge 3-pointer from Sawyer with 1:50 to go, and two key free throws from Wright at the 1:12 mark.

Kelly hauled down a big rebound with 1:20 to go, and he hit a critical layup with 21 seconds left to give the Crusaders a 60-56 lead.

Owens hit two free throws to get Severn within two with 18 seconds left, and the Admirals then had two chances to change the outcome, but both jumpers missed the mark. Kendall Harmon took their final shot of the day came with 3.5 seconds on the clock, but it hit rim as the buzzer sounded.

Goldberg praised the Admirals.

“This was a great game, and Severn is a great team,” he said. “They do a tremendous job. You always have to fight to make a play. They’re one of the best teams in the area.

“We were able to get strong leadership today and our communication was incredible. I don’t know if one win like this is going to change our (up and down) season but we made a lot of winning plays today.”

Wright said that it was a real big game for St. Paul’s.

“They have a lot of really good players and they are really well-coached,” said Wright. “We have to always play hard and control the things that we can control.”

On his key free throws down the stretch Wright said, “I just stepped up to the line with confidence. I trusted myself and my teammates trusted me. We work on free throws all the time in practice.”

Sawyer said that coming in he knew it would be a big test against a great Severn team. “Our 2-3 zone is one of the best in the conference, and we knew that LJ (Owens) was their main scorer, but our defense was set to guard anybody.”

Severn coach VJ Keith said that his team came out flat and got in an early hole, “but we battled and made a run and and almost got the win.

“It’s tough to play three games in 4 days, and this one on a 16 hour turnaround. I’m proud of how we fought back”.

The Admirals were coming off a 64-41 win over St. John’s Catholic Prep on Friday night.

“We’ll get back to work on Monday and regroup.”

Things won’t get any easier for the Admirals next week. They will host a hot Gerstell team on Tuesday night. Gerstell is 5-1 in league play, a half game in front of the Admirals. At 6-0, Indian Creek leads the league. St. Paul’s is tied with St. John’s Catholic Prep for fourth.

ST. PAUL’S 60, NO. 12 SEVERN 58
STP 22 12 13 13 — 60
SEV 7 15 17 19 — 58
ST. PAUL’S: Wright 11, Reid 15, Barthelme 10, Kelly 6,
Walker 2, Sawyer 16.
SEVERN: Terry 21, Owens 20, Hall 11, Berko 6.