Forward Omar Saleem's basket at the buzzer last night at Spingarn enabled surprising Phelps to stun Anacostia, 77-76, in a battle for first place in the Interhigh East.
With eight seconds left, Phelps (7-8, 3-0 in the league) inbounded the ball. Roger Bell (16 points) brought it up court and passed to Clifton Lockard (16 points). He found Saleem open under the basket.
"I didn't know it was coming to me. We rehearse this play every day -- eight seconds left, only four passes and find the open man for the layup," Saleem said. "If I had known it was coming to me, I may not have hit it."
Phelps was 0-22 last season and has just three players left from that squad. Richard Jackson, a band teacher, is in his first season as a varsity basketball coach, and his second year coaching the sport at the high school level (he coached junior varsity last year).
From the start it was clear that this Phelps squad was different. It controlled the floor and the tempo.
All night the Indians (9-8, 2-1) played catchup, with Phelps leading by 11, 40-29, in the second quarter.
But with five minutes left, Anacostia took its first lead, 62-61, on a 12-footer by Mike Powell (15 points). Lovelle Packy scored seven straight points to increase Anacostia's lead to 69-61.
The Panthers quickly regrouped and began pressing every possession, forcing six Anacostia turnovers. They took a 71-69 lead with 1:38 remaining.
"We were our own worst enemy tonight," Anacostia Coach Thomas Hargrove said.