* Leonardtown 73, Patuxent 66
The buzzer inadvertently sounded while a Patuxent player was dribbling the ball midway through the third quarter of the team's 73-66 loss to visiting Leonardtown on Friday night.
It seemed appropriate, however, for the buzzer to sound then, with Leonardtown holding a 49-43 lead in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference boys' basketball game. Point totals in the 40s sometimes are what the teams score in an entire game.
Leonardtown entered averaging 54.5 points. Patuxent was averaging 55 points in its past six games.
The first half was played at breakneck speed, with the teams combining for 77 points. The average possession lasted 11 seconds.
Leonardtown senior Kevin Pulliam finished with a season-high 31 points and made 9 of 10 field goals in the second half. Classmate Jason Estep added 20 points and made all eight of his field goals in the first half.
"That's the style we like to play," Pulliam said. "I think we're pretty good at it, since we are pretty quick for our size. . . . Jason [Estep] is our best outside shooter, and when he steps up, we're a much better team. But in the second half, I just told my teammates to get me the ball. Things were falling for me."
Things were falling for Pulliam so much that, as the half wore on, he began running down court immediately after he shot the ball because he was so certain it was going in.
The performance from Estep also pleased Coach Glenn Larnerd. Estep entered averaging 6.6 points. He eclipsed that total just 3 minutes 46 seconds into the game, when his fourth basket gave the Raiders a 12-10 lead.
Estep and Pulliam also had combined to keep the Raiders close in a 77-76 loss to Westlake on Wednesday night. Pulliam scored 26 points and Estep added 15 in that game. The Raiders were undone in that one, however, because they made just 11 of 27 free throws (40.7 percent).
"Jason played well tonight," Larnerd said. "He can shoot that short jumper. He is most effective when he shoots the ball as he receives it. That's what he did tonight."
Patuxent (2-11 overall, 1-8 SMAC) played its best basketball in the second quarter. The Panthers outscored Leonardtown 24-12, led by nine points from senior guard Wayne Yates.
At the start of the third quarter, however, Pulliam scored his team's first 12 points in a 4:30 span to give the Raiders a 49-43 lead they did not lose.
Yates and junior guard Paul Travers each finished with 15 points and sophomore David Johnson added 14 for Patuxent, but Coach Chris Hodge was left to lament his team's 22 turnovers.
The game "was terrible," he said. "You can't give up the ball 20-plus times and win."
Pulliam's 31-point performance was the latest in a strong run, marking the seventh time he has scored at least 19 points this season. A 5-foot-10 guard, Pulliam entered Friday's game averaging 16 points. No Leonardtown player averaged more than 11 points last season.
The Raiders will need Pulliam and Estep to continue their strong play. They are in the midst of a five-game road trip that includes a contest at La Plata on Monday, and they still have SMAC-leading Chopticon and Northern ahead.
"It's definitely a good win for us, a good win for the kids," Larnerd said. "I'm happy for them. Because it doesn't get any easier after this."