ST. JAMES, Md. — It was an unusual sight as Cullen Hamilton and his Potomac School teammates posed for commemorative photos after their 62-60 victory over St. James in the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament championship game Saturday.
A prolific senior guard bound for Holy Cross, Hamilton is much more accustomed to seeing both arms raised to signal three-point baskets. Standing with one arm raised, one finger extended for “Number One” was different — the Panthers had never won the MAC tournament and had not won the regular season since 2008.
“We haven’t done that in a while,” said Potomac School Coach Levi Franklin, whose team next plays in the Virginia Independent Schools tournament.
As has been the case most of the season, the Panthers (19-10) relied on Hamilton and he delivered. Hamilton made 9 of 15 shots, including 5 of 10 from three-point range to finish with a game-high 25 points. St. James tried a variety of defenses to slow Hamilton, but he continually was able to find just enough room to shoot.
“It can be kind of hard because you don’t want to consume too much energy so you can’t defend and rebound,” said Hamilton, who is the Washington area’s seventh-leading scorer at 25.5 points per game and ranks second in three-point shooting at 3.3 per game. “But I have a lot of unselfish teammates who give up their bodies so I can get open off screens.”
Hamilton came through in the third quarter as the Panthers kept the Saints at bay. After Potomac School’s lead was cut to four points late in the period, Hamilton made consecutive three-pointers from the left side. The Panthers did just enough in the fourth quarter to hold, with Hamilton’s two free throws sealing the game with 7.3 seconds left.
“I had a personal talk with him before the game,” Franklin said. “Just that, ‘You’ve got to leave no doubt, that it’s all on you. You got us here.’ ”
Point guard Davon Hill, who has played most of the season while limited by torn knee ligaments that will require reconstructive surgery, added 14 points for Potomac School, which will share this year’s MAC title with regular season winner Sidwell Friends.
Sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia, who played for South County last year, finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for St. James, which finished 16-11.