Seventh-ranked Seneca Valley's delay game short-circuited eighth-ranked Rockville's running attack in the final period and the Screaming Eagles squeezed out a 60-58 victory in a Montgomery County A-9 battle of unbeatens last night at Seneca Valley.
Greg Mitchell's layup with 1:01 to play pushed Seneca (10-0 league, 14-0 overall) ahead, 60-53, but this confrontation was far from over.
The leader of the Runnin' Rams five-guard offense, Rica Page, slowed to a walk because of early foul trouble, sank a free-throw and converted a layup after a steal to bring Rockville (9-1, 13-1) within four points, 60-56, with 30 seconds remaining.
Seneca Valley's stategy of forcing the Rams to foul in the final period worked but the Screaming Eagles failed to capitalize on the trips to the line.
"Our plan was to get layups and free throws out of our delay game," said Seneca forward Doug Compton, whose nine third-quarter points put his team ahead to stay. "We got what we wanted; we just didn't make the free throws."
Marty Malloy botched the first shot on a one-and-one situation with 26 seconds to play. The speedy Page quickly worked his way free for an open jumper to make it 60-58 with 14 seconds left.
Again the hustling Rams picked on Malloy, who missed his first attempt. The 6-foot-3 Mitchell grabbed the rebound and was fouled but saw his opportunity to wrap up the game bang off the rim and into the hands of Rockville's Bobby Wright.
Page missed a 16-footer from the top of the key with four seconds to go and backcourt mate Brian Howard, who led his team with 14 points, outfought three Eagles for the rebound. His off-balance attempt was short. The ball was grabbed by Ram Ed Rutledge, whose basket came after the buzzer.
"We did a poor job of blocking out and Rockville is so quick it's hard to keep them off the boards," said Seneca Valley Coach Gene Doane. "I think our four-corners made them a little leg weary. "With 1:34 left, they only had one team foul on them. We had to get some free throws. We panicked a little and didn't make them."