Thomas Stone senior John Brown was not in the starting lineup Friday night against Patuxent, but he made the difference in the end.
Brown, the first reserve off the Thomas Stone bench, scored six of his career-high 21 points in overtime to lead the Cougars to a 75-68 victory over Patuxent in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference game in Waldorf. The 5-foot-10 forward also finished with nine rebounds.
"John is good enough to start, but he plays better off the bench," Thomas Stone Coach Steve Datcher said. "He gives us energy off the bench. He's not a big guy, but he has long arms and gets a lot of rebounds. . . . He just has a nose for the ball."
Brown's six overtime points came during a 13-5 run that gave Thomas Stone (6-3, 3-0) a 71-65 lead. Patuxent (5-4, 1-2) cut the lead to 71-67 on a layup by Larry Rice (16 points), but Robert Naylor made four three throws in the final 24 seconds to put the game out of reach.
"We knew they were going to make a run in the second half," said Datcher, whose team led at halftime, 30-15. "Things got away from us a bit in the second half, but we were able to make some key shots down the stretch and hang on for the win."
Patuxent scored 11 of the first 19 points in the third quarter to cut Stone's lead to 36-24, with Rice hitting three jumpers and grabbing two offensive rebounds.
Thomas Stone led, 43-39, with 5:33 left in the game, but Patuxent scored seven of the next 11 points to cut the lead to 47-46. Kavin Gantt hit a jumper and two free throws during that stretch.
The Cougars pushed the lead to 51-46 on Brown's steal and layup, but Patuxent scored six of the next seven points to cut the lead to 53-52. Thomas Stone, which went 22 of 24 from the line, hit five of six free throws in the final two minutes and led 58-54, but Graham and Gantt each scored two points to send the game into overtime.
"We didn't shoot the ball well in the first half, but we started making easy chip shots in the second half," Patuxent Coach Todd Nutter said. "We also played better defense. That's the best [man-to-man] defense we've played all year. . . . We had our chances down the stretch, we just didn't convert."
Thomas Stone got off to a quick start and led 8-4 midway through the first quarter. But led by Graham and Gantt (15 points), Patuxent scored eight of the next 10 points and took its first lead of the game. Thomas Stone quickly regained the lead as Brown and Tyrone Hawkins hit three-pointers.
"My goal is to score and get rebounds," said Brown, who entered the game midway through the first quarter. "It doesn't matter if I come off the bench, I just want to give my team a lift and do what I've got to do."
Patuxent (5-4, 1-2)--R. Hawkins 5 4-6 17, Gantt 5 5-6 15, Gross 2 0-0 4, Graham 5 5-8 15, Rice 8 0-0 16, Baldwin 0 0-2 0, Evans 0 1-2 1. Totals 25 15-24 68.
Thomas Stone (6-3, 3-0)--Johnson 1 0-0 2, Spells 2 11-12 15, Naylor 6 9-10 21, Brown 10 0-0 21, Curry 3 0-0 6, T. Hawkins 3 2-2 10. Totals 25 22-24 75.
Halftime: Thomas Stone, 30-15.
Three-point goals: Patuxent 3 (Hawkins 3); Thomas Stone 3 (Hawkins 2, Brown).