The first thought that ran through Travis Garrison's mind after the DeMatha sophomore scored on a layup with 15 seconds remaining in last night's game against No. 5 Paul VI Catholic was that he just scored the winning basket.
Then he remembered the top-ranked Stags needed one more defensive stop, so he told his teammate, junior Jordan Collins, to block a shot. Collins obliged, knocking away Dennis Bowden's attempt with three seconds left. DeMatha's Billy Edelin recovered the ball, and the Hyattsville school held on for a thrilling 60-58 victory in front of 1,500 at George Mason University's Linn Gymnasium.
Junior Tyree Spinner led Paul VI (13-3, 3-1) with 18 points and 14 rebounds in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game, and Bowden had 10 points and 11 assists. DeMatha (17-1, 4-0) had very balanced scoring on a night when its top two scorers, Edelin and Collins, were held below their season averages. Edelin, who scored 39 points in his previous game, was held to a season-low 12 points. Collins attempted only two shots, making both.
Instead, three reserves--Garrison, junior Maurice Carter (four three-point baskets, 14 points) and senior Hekima Jackson (four points)--made big plays for DeMatha.
"I think that the greatest strength of our team is our depth," Coach Morgan Wootten said. "We talk before every game about how we're going to go to the bench and use nine or 10 guys. Obviously that's the key."
Paul VI had a 46-43 lead with seven minutes left, but DeMatha responded by scoring eight straight points to take a 51-46 advantage with 5 minutes 12 seconds to play.
DeMatha could not hold the lead, and when Paul VI junior Andre Eason made a reverse layup with 1:41 left, the Panthers were within two, 58-56. A traveling violation by Collins on DeMatha's next possession returned the ball to the Panthers, and Spinner was fouled by Garrison.
Spinner missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Paul VI managed to tie up the rebound and keep possession. With 28 seconds left, Eason was fouled and made both free throws to tie the score at 58.
That set up Garrison's winning layup, on a back-door cut and a pass from Jackson.
"I was really surprised at how open I was," Garrison said. "Hekima just made a great pass."
Said Collins, "I thought [Garrison] was going to dunk the ball. It would have been better if he dunked it, but two points is two points."