One game stands out from Bill Sutton's original 10-year tenure as basketball coach at Gaithersburg High School -- a 1974 victory over perennial Metro Conference power DeMatha. Last night at Gaithersburg, this season's Trojans sparked some old memories.
In his second game back after an eight-year absence, Sutton saw his team withstand a shaky final four minutes and hold on for a 63-59 nonleague victory over St. John's, another of the traditional Metro Conference elite.
Senior forward Pat Kane, whose chief responsibilities for Gaithersburg (2-0) do not include scoring, scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and blocked a potential tying three-point shot with two seconds remaining. Guard Sean Smith also had 16 points and center Jia Simms finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
St. John's (1-1) trailed by 54-44 with 3:40 remaining, but came within two on three occasions down the stretch. Jeff Hall scored a game-high 19 points and Mike Kelly, who sparked the late rally with 10 points in the closing 3:23, finished with 14.
"We did it again," said Sutton, whose movement to other schools led to his vacating the coaching job in 1979. "I told our kids over the summer that if we wanted to be the best, we had to beat some good teams like this one. Psychologically, this will be good for us."
The Trojans took control midway in the third quarter on Smith's outside shooting. He made three consecutive shots, two from beyond the three-point line and the other a two-pointer from barely inside the line.
In the fourth period, St. John's, which graduated six of its top seven players from last season's team, came out in an aggressive 2-3 zone that paid little attention to 6-foot-4 Kane.
"I'm not supposed to score, but we were working it around and I was getting some good backdoor passes," said Kane. "The way they played that zone, I was wide open."
St. John's, which had relied on Hall to carry it most of the night, rallied late behind Kelly. An attempted three-point shot from the left corner by Kelly with two seconds left could have tied the game, but Kane solidly blocked it.
"There were moments in the game that both teams played well and moments when both played no so well," said St. John's Coach Joe Gallagher. "Our kids are young and just not used to each other, but I admire their courage in coming back the way they did."