Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Lions escape in OT

Hornets give County League leader all it can handle

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Raphael Talisman⁄The Gazette
Largo’s Tamara Maxwell drives past Surrattsville’s Chanae Shorter during Tuesday evening’s County 3A⁄2A⁄1A League game in Largo.
Following his team’s heartbreaking overtime loss to defending Class 3A state champion Largo High on Tuesday evening, Surrattsville High School third-year coach Demarrio Newman quickly and quietly hustled his players onto the bus for the long ride back to Clinton.

Newman and his players may not have been entirely content with the Hornets’ 63-61 setback against the host Lions, but the narrow defeat perhaps gave them some reassurance that bigger and better things still lay ahead. Surrattsville reached the 2A state semifinals last year and appears well on its way to a return trip to the state tournament this season.

‘‘We were right there the whole game and we had so many chances to win,” said Newman, whose team lost to 2A contender Gwynn Park, 77-74, on Friday. ‘‘We just needed to do a better job rebounding and at the foul line. I always tell these girls that teams that rebound well win championships. I keep telling [point guard] Chanae Shorter that she has to control the tempo and she has to realize when to take control of the game.”

While Newman spoke candidly about the near victory that slipped through his team’s grasp in the extra session, Largo third-year coach Ayana Ball kept her players for nearly 20 minutes afterward. Ball realized how close the Hornets were to upsetting her team.

‘‘I think my girls just came in overconfident,” Ball said. ‘‘We beat them by 13 points the first time we played them at their place and I guess my girls were just looking past them. Surrattsville did a good job inside. Their big girls [Brittney Barber and Barbie Askew] are good low-post players. Fortunately, Nikita Bush came up big. She did a great job on the boards.”

In the waning seconds of the fourth quarter Tuesday, Askew grabbed a defensive rebound and then headed toward the bench to call a time out.

But in the heat of the moment, with the game tied at 56-56, Askew simply forgot to dribble before leaving the paint and was whistled for a traveling violation. With 6.5 seconds remaining, Largo had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Carla Russell’s 3-point attempt was off target.

‘‘Before that last possession, I told the girls as soon as you get the rebound call time out,” Newman said. ‘‘Barbie got the rebound, but she didn’t call for a time out.”

Russell quickly atoned for her missed 3-pointer when she began the extra session by hitting a 3-point field goal, but then she proceeded to miss her next three attempts from beyond the arc. When her fourth shot caromed off the rim, Russell dove into her own bench looking to send the long rebound back into play.

‘‘It’s not like she has the green light every possession,” Ball said of Russell. ‘‘But if she feels confident in her shot, I want her to shoot. She hit that first one to start the overtime and then she felt confident enough to keep shooting. I liked seeing her hustle after that last miss.”

Endia Hill scored Surrattsville’s first basket of the overtime, and after two Russell misses, Barber went to the foul line on two consecutive possessions with the chance to give her team the lead. Already in the double bonus since late in the fourth quarter and guaranteed two shots at the line, Barber missed three of four free throws and Largo still led, 61-59, with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining.

Shorter hit a short jumper with 42 seconds left to narrow the gap to 62-61, but Largo guard Shanell Tharps hit one of two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining to seal the verdict. Surrattsville turned the ball over twice in the last 30 seconds while looking to get the ball inside to either Barber or Askew. Largo led by 12 at the end of the first quarter and six at halftime and after three quarters.

E-mail Ted Black at