By Andrew Feather ’13
DeMatha vs. McNamara part two, the Showdown at the Showplace, and game of the year — all names used to describe last night’s contest between heated rivals, and the game didn’t disappoint. It was a game of two halves, with McNamara dominating the first and DeMatha controlling the second in a contest that went down to the buzzer, literally, as DeMatha walked away 56-54 winners.
With about 5.5 seconds left in the game and the score notched at 54 apiece, McNamara’s Ibn Muhammad drove to the hoop and threw up a layup attempt that missed. With 3.5 seconds left in the game, DeMatha unleashed a full court shot that missed, sending the game into overtime, or so it seemed.
A livid Mike Jones ran onto the court explaining to the refs how he was trying to call a timeout. One of them must have seen Jones, because one second, which later changed to three, was added back to the game clock.
With one last chance, James Robinson inbounded the ball to Mikael Hopkins, who may or may not have traveled (see video), and the Stags proceeded to call timeout with .9 seconds on the clock. Once again, the refs added time to the clock and DeMatha had one last play with 1.9 seconds remaining. Robinson inbounded the ball to Hopkins once again, but Hopkins couldn’t gain control of the ball. Junior guard Marcellous Bell was able to get possession and score as time expired (another video). The refs scurried off the court as DeMatha celebrated a controversial 56-54 victory.
When asked about it, many McNamara players felt cheated out of a win. Senior guard Jonathan Middlebrooks said, “At the end of the game when he shot the ball, the clock ran off and they put three seconds back on. Then after that when they threw the ball in and got across half court, it was 0.9 seconds and they put one more second back on the clock. They just kept putting time on the clock. I feel they cheated us out of a win. We definitely played hard the whole game. We will get them back next time.”
DeMatha players, on the other hand, didn’t seem so sure the outcome was unfair. Bell, who hit the game winner said, “I’m not sure they were cheated because we were down by so much at halftime and we just came out and hustled more and played well the entire second half.” He also said, “It felt good [to hit the winning shot], but I’m just glad we came in here and got the win.”
To start this game, unlike McNamara’s game at DeMatha on January 6, it was the Mustangs that had a hot start, jumping out to a 14-6 lead, including back-to-back three pointers by Marcus Thornton (William & Mary) to cap off the run. Add in a three pointer from DeMatha sophomore Jairus Lyles and a two-point field goal from McNamara senior Ibn Muhammad and the Mustangs went into the quarter break with a 16-9 lead.
The second period started the same way the first ended: total McNamara domination, starting it out with a 10-3 run. Once again it was Jairus Lyles nailing a three ball that ended up halting the run short. After a timeout by Mustangs’ coach Marty Kiethline, the teams traded baskets pretty evenly to close out the half with McNamara ahead 35-21.
During halftime, something DeMatha coach Mike Jones said must have ignited a flame in his team because they came out from the break on fire going on a 13-3 run, finished off with a massive one-handed slam that hushed the rabid McNamara students that had come out for the game. That’s when Marcus Thornton showed why he is one of the leading candidates for WCAC Player of the Year by hitting three of the next four shots to go on a 8-3 run (the other basket scored by DeMatha Center BeeJay Anya). After that, it was all DeMatha, who headed into the final intermission down 49-40.
The Stags, continuing their momentum from the third quarter, totally owned the final time slot by dominating McNamara both in the paint and on the wide open floor. They couldn’t miss from the floor and they were grabbing the rebounds of most of their foul shots leading to easy put-back baskets.
After an amazing run, partly due to the fact that Thornton was held to only one shot in the quarter, the Stags had tied the score with 24.5 seconds left to go, allowing McNamara to have a chance to put up the attempted game winning shot. But when guard Ibn Muhammad made a beeline for the opposing basket, his shot rolled off, causing a chain reaction that still can’t be explained.
Questionable ending or not, DeMatha obviously came to play and proved why they are year in and year out one of the best teams in the WCAC.