If Tuesday night’s Severn-Indian Creek contest is indeed just the first of three possible matchups between the two MIAA B Conference sides, and this was just the appetizer, get ready for some classics.
Malik McKinney scored on a reverse layup with eight seconds remaining, the 11th lead change in the fourth quarter, and scored 17 of his 19 points after the half as Indian Creek (14-0) stayed undefeated with a thrilling 60-58 win over the visiting Admirals.
“Severn always plays us tough — it is our main rivalry because we are all friends, but we are not friends on the court during the game,” McKinney said. “The team that finishes the most in the fourth quarter was going to come out on top.”
Jordan Lewis added 13 points for Indian Creek, which improved to 9-0 in conference play. The Admirals (15-5) fell to 5-3.
“Defense was definitely the key tonight,” Severn’s Jermaine Hall said. “They put a triangle-and-two on us and we just needed to communicate better.”
The Admirals took a 10-point lead early in the third, but Khalil Williams scored, Lewis made a 3-pointer and McKinney scored to get the Eagles within two. Sammy Carter scored off a rebound to give Indian Creek its first lead since early in the game midway through the third, 36-35. Williams had nine points and six rebounds for the Eagles, while Khiyon Washington added eight points.
“Things were not going as planned early in the third for us, so coach told us just to keep our composure,” McKinney said. “They were denying me the ball, so I trusted my teammates and swung the ball out to teammates for big buckets and big threes.”
Down two going into the fourth, Indian Creek almost immediately took the lead on another Lewis trey. Neither team led by more than four points in the game’s final 13 minutes.
“We gotta stop the splits. That is on me, and we are going to work on that right away,” said Keith, who was not happy about how his team defended Indian Creek’s penetration in the second half. “I know the thing nowadays is to get up on somebody and ride them, but they were going right by us. I don’t care if we give up the 3’s, I just don’t want us getting beat like that.”
The back-and-forth was nerve-racking. Lewis hit a two to give Indian Creek a 45-44 advantage. Burch followed with a 3-pointer, to which McKinney retorted with a three of his own. Hall had a rebound put back and Burch followed with his sixth three. Williams followed with a basket for Indian Creek, and Lewis nailed a 3-pointer off a feed from Washington to give the Eagles a 53-52 lead with 3 minutes, 28 seconds to play. Lewis had eight of his 13 in the final period.
“Malik was driving and passing me the ball, and I was just making my shots,” Lewis said.
LJ Owens, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, made four straight free throws, sandwiched around another basket by McKinney, and Burch made two free throws to give Severn a 58-55 lead with 45 seconds remaining. McKinney converted a 1-and-1 with 34 seconds to play to even the game at 58, the only tie in the fourth quarter, setting the tone for the final sequence.
With 11 seconds left, Lewis got his hand on the ball and tipped it to Washington, who sent it forward to McKinney, whose reverse layup with eight seconds to play proved to be the winner. McKinney scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to slow the ball down and not let them get in too fast,” Lewis said. “I saw an opportunity with a loose ball and tipped it. It is amazing. We were the underdogs coming into the season, but now the sky is the limit.”
The Eagles, who defeated St. John’s Catholic Prep by three on the road Monday, had two nailbiters in 24 hours. The conference season is only just past the midway point, but McKinney and his teammates are doing a good job keeping everything in perspective.
“We do a good job with the day-to-day,” McKinney said. “We were solely focused on St. John’s yesterday, and did not think about Severn until today. We will not think about them again until we play them on the (February) 14th.”
“This is any given day with the these teams,” Hall said. “We have a great team and they have a great team. Every game is going to be a dogfight.”