Posted by Michael Glick on Dec 31 2002 at 04:00PM PST
Missed tip-ins at the buzzer allow Jersey’s St. Benedict’s to cling to one-point victory by Gary Adornato 12/31/2002 Rudy Gay and Will Bowers each had an opportunity at a game-winning tip-in, in the final eight seconds, but neither could get the ball to drop as Archbishop Spalding lost a heart-breaking, 49-48, decision to St. Benedict’s (NJ), in the championship game of the Slam Dunk at the Beach Tournament, last night in Lewes, Delaware. The Cavaliers (8-2), rated #4 in the latest Baltimore rankings, missed a golden opportunity to become the first area team to win the prestigious national event, when senior guard Matt Latonick was fouled while attempting a three-point field goal with just 7.9 seconds remaining and St. Benedict’s clinging to a 49-47 lead. Latonick, however, missed the first and third shots and, despite excellent efforts by both Gay and Bowers, the ensuing tips did not fall. St. Benedict’s, which trailed the Cavaliers nearly the entire game, took its first lead since the early minutes, when Art Bowers fed 6’-8” Stanley Branch for a dunk with 3:01 remaining in the game. Branch then added a free-throw in the final 30-seconds to put the Gray Bees up by two. Spalding built a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but Benedict’s Bowers, who is headed to the University of Massachusetts on a basketball scholarship next fall, hit a 15-foot jumper to start a rally and another, with just 1:29 left in the period, to tie the game at 41. The victory should boost St. Benedict’s into the national rankings. The Gray Bees are undefeated and won the Great Florida Shootout last week, beating Lexington Catholic (KY), which was ranked in the top five in the nation by USA Today at the time, in the championship game. The last Baltimore team to reach the Slam Dunk at the Beach championship game was Dunbar, in 1997, when it lost to St. Patrick’s, also of New Jersey. Branch and J.R. Smith led St. Benedict’s with 13-points apiece, including three each in the decisive fourth quarter in which the Newark school outscored Spalding by an 8-4 margin. Bowers had 10-points and seven rebounds and Alex Galindo grabbed 11 rebounds for St. Benedicts, which amassed a 29-4 advantage in second-chance points. Gay, a junior, led Spalding with 20-points, including 12 in the first half when the Cavaliers built a 33-25 lead. And Bowers, Spalding’s 7’-0” senior center had 11-points. Both were named to the all-tournament team. Spalding returns to action in the MIAA A Conference on Friday, when it hosts Cardinal Gibbons.


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