Largo 61, Oxon Hill 59

The moment Largo junior guard Ciera Fletcher had waited for had arrived: tie game. Ball in her hand at the top of the key. A couple hundred spectators cheering as many stomped on the metal bleachers as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Fletcher stared down the Oxon Hill defense as she moved to her right, creating the perfect seam to glide through and deliver the decisive lay-up with two seconds remaining to lift Largo to a 61-59 victory over 14th-ranked Oxon Hill in a Prince George's County 4A game last night in Upper Marlboro.

"As a player, it's everything you dream of," said Fletcher, who scored a season-high 12 points. "I had the ball in my hands and the chance to win the game, and I made the play that won the game."

Fletcher's heroics capped a victory in which Largo rallied from a 14-point deficit with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter to earn its first victory over Oxon Hill in seven meetings and move the Lions into a first-place tie with Oxon Hill and Suitland in the Prince George's County 4A league standings with a record of 8-1.

Largo Coach Bob Blair said the biggest significance of Largo's ninth straight victory -- which was punctuated when senior center Melissa Washington knocked down the Clippers' pass to set up a potentially game-winning shot as time expired -- was it sent a clear message to Prince George's County, as well as the rest of the state.

"We've got a good basketball team, and it's not going to be easy when you play us," said Blair, whose team improved to 10-2 overall. "One of the most important things I feel every team must do early in the season is send a message, and that's what we did when we beat Oxon Hill."

Oxon Hill (9-3), which had three-game winning streak ended while losing to Largo for the first time since the 1999-2000 regular season, was led by senior guard Crystal Payne, who scored a career and-game high 23 points.

After Oxon Hill junior forward Courtney Crittenden's layup gave the Clippers a 51-37 lead with 1 minute 8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Largo rallied. After Washington (11 points) converted a three-point play, junior guard Jenise McNair added a pair of free throws before Fletcher capped the run by making a three-pointer to pull the Lions to 51-45 entering the fourth quarter.

"This was a must-win game for us," Washington said. "We had to prove we that we're the team to beat, and now we are."