With just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter of a recent basketball game against McNamara, Good Counsel trailed, 49-38.
Good Counsel's back court of Clay Dade and Chris Windlan looked at each other and decided it was time to "get it together," as Windlan said later.
In the 11 minutes left to play, the two led the Falcons' comeback. Dade moved the ball up court, pulling up for the jumper or passing to open teammates. Windlan roamed the base line, pump-faking opponents and driving in for the layup.
With nine seconds left, the score was tied at 57 and Dade was fouled driving through the lane. He made both foul shots and Good Counsel, again, had rallied from a large deficit to win the game. And again, it was Windlan and Dade who led the charge with 25 and 14 points, respectively.
"There have been four or five games when we've been down in the last minute, and I haven't panicked yet," Coach Rich Seel said. "Well, not too much, anyway."
The Falcons beat Rockville in overtime. They trailed Bullis by 11 at intermission but came back to win in overtime. Windlan hit a jumper at the buzzer to lift the Falcons over Ireton. It was business as usual for the Falcons against McNamara.
In fact, Good Counsel, a perennial Metro Conference doormat, is 11-2 and 2-1 in league play, but Seel chose his words carefully when asked how much Dade and Windlan had contributed to the team's fast start.
"Let's just say this is a guard-oriented team," he said. "Everybody contributes on this team, that's the way it's gotta be for us to keep winning. But Clay and Chris are doing it for us. There's no denying that. They are both smart. They cut down the angles on defense. They don't get hung up in the air on offense. I'm not saying they don't go all out, but they think ahead of their actions and they don't use up as much energy.
"Dade and Windlan are going to be a big key for us down the stretch. I don't like to think that we're going to live or die with them, but you never know. So far they've been playing excellent basketball and well, we've been living pretty good."
Accordingly, Seel counts on both players going the distance each game. He will only pull one of them if he gets in foul trouble or is hurt. Surprisingly, both players seem to get stronger as the game progresses. Against McNamara, the two players scored nine of the team's 12 third-quarter points and 13 of the team's fourth-quarter points. Seel said the two have scored about half of Good Counsel's points this year.
"Coach counts on us for leadership," said Windlan, a 6-foot-1 senior. "If things get rough, like they did on Tuesday (against McNamara), we'll just look at each other and do it."
"We did a lot of work over the summer," said Dade, a 5-8 senior. "Lots of jumping rope, lots of sprints. Conditioning work. We knew we were going to be playing a lot and we wanted to be ready."
Both boys have started for Good Counsel for three years, but they started playing together in the Silver Spring boys club leagues two years before that.
"When you got players that have been playing together for that length of time, you leave it to them to do the job," Seel said. "No, I don't tell them anything when they're out there. They do it themselves. It's instinct."
In the final minutes of the McNamara game, Dade sent three backdoor passes to Windlan under the basket, all from the same spot near midcourt. Windlan flipped in two reverse layups and was fouled on the third.
"We do that sometimes because of experience," Dade said. "I know where he's gonna be without him yelling out. If I come down on a fast break, I know where he'll be. I don't have to look around or anything. It makes me look better."
"We worked hard over the summer," Windlan said. "We went all over the place looking for games. We played each other. We're almost like one guy on the court because we know each other so well."
Dade has already signed with Wake Forest and probably will be majoring in business. Windlan is still uncommitted as to college and major, but he said Northeastern has approached him.
"I'm not really worried about it right now," Windlan said. "I don't really have exact plans for next year. Plus, we got a lot to think about right now. We have a pretty decent team."
Seel wouldn't go much farther than decent. Good Counsel was routed by Metro Conference power St. John's, 69-56, and has yet to play the Metro kingpin, DeMatha. But he likes what he sees in the Falcons right now, and the pressure his back court has faced already can only help the team.
"I'm not saying we're going to win those games," Seel said. " but we'll be competitive, And Dade and Windlan are going to be a big key for us down the stretch.""