Landon Coach Scott Griggs's emotional barometer dipped from jubilation to aggravation yesterday as he watched his Bears meander through the final quarter, allowing visiting Georgetown Prep to whittle down a four-point, third-quarter deficit and turn it to a 61-49 come-from-behind victory.

Prep (6-0) played the fourth quarter with machinelike efficiency, exploding for 21 points, including the game's final 12, on the strength of a resilient 2-3 zone defense that left the Bears (6-2) smitten with turnovers and unable to maintain the composure that earned them a 38-34 third-period lead.

"We had that four-point lead and Prep forced us into three consecutive turnovers," Griggs said. "They just were tremendously physical. You have to give them credit."

Landon's third-quarter swing that erased a 28-23 Prep halftime advantage was led by center George Mboya, who had six points in a 13-4 Bears' comeback. Mboya finished with eight points.

The surge began after Landon sliced the Little Hoyas' margin to 32-29 on Ed Burman's jump shot. Then Mboya, despite being fouled by A. J. Wood, scored on Landon's ensuing possession. Mboya tied it at 32 after converting the free throw. The Bears scored twice more for a 36-32 advantage.

"We didn't change anything {at halftime}," Griggs said. "We stayed with what we were doing in the first half. They're just a real good team {and} very experienced."

The Little Hoyas' offensive malaise soon ended, giving way to the fourth-quarter precision shooting of Wood and John Douglas, who led all scorers with 17 points. Wood finished with 16.

"Our defense was the key," Wood said. "We were kind of tired coming into the third quarter so we had to pick it up on defense. We knew Landon was going to come out and play hard in the second half."

Though Prep went ahead, 46-42, in the final quarter, the Bears refused to surrender quietly. Landon struggled to even it up at 49 on a 7-3 run, but would get no closer. The Little Hoyas' suffocating defense took control, stifling what had been an inspired Bears' offense, denying them a basket the rest of the way.

"I told them in the locker room" after the game was over "that the best thing we did was not to push the panic button," Prep Coach Frank Gilmore said. "You might not always come back but if you push the panic button you {definitely} won't come back."

The Little Hoyas' experience paid off in the final minutes as their corps of seniors engineered Prep's trademark weave-delay offense that had Landon running in circles and fouling in droves.

"We had to count on our experience since we start five seniors," Wood said. "We might not be the flashiest team around but we work well as a unit." GP (6-0) -- Wood 16, Douglas 17, Hamill 11, King 11, Leftwich 6. Totals 23 15 61. L (6-2) -- Archibald 14, Steen 3, Bowser 2, Magruder 2, Burman 14, Udobot 6, Mboya 8. Totals 20 6 49.

Halftime: Georgetown Prep, 28-23.

Three-point goals: Landon 3 (Archibald 2, Steen).