It would not be a stretch to say that Salmen and McDonogh 35 could play again in the Class 4A playoffs. For the time being, the first matchup went to the Spartans, as they overcame the Roneagles 56-55 for the championship of the Country Day Classic on Thursday.
T.J. Price scored 27 points to lead Salmen (12-0) and was the Most Valuable Player. Jamal Robinson contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Roland Celestine fouled out with less than a minute to play, but he paced McDonogh 35 (9-3) with 16 points. Jarrnard Jareau and Jalen Javers each scored 11. Jareau also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots.
"This was one of the toughest games we've had this season," said Price. "We knew we had to box out and keep them away from the boards."
The score was tied at 44 going into the fourth quarter, but the Spartans held the Roneagles scoreless for the next three minutes while scoring the first two baskets in a 6-0 run on second-chance baskets, including Price's rebound of his own shot.
Jareau broke the scoring drought with a jump shot just inside the arc to cut the Spartans' lead to 50-46, but the Roneagles fell behind by seven on a driving layup by Price. They closed to 54-52 as Jareau slashed through the lane between three defenders. However, a crucial goal-tending call on the other end on a basket by Daniel Sams gave Salmen a 56-52 advantage. Jerome Kiefier made a desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer, making the final score 56-55.
"It was a great effort on the part of our kids and McDonogh 35," said Salmen Coach Jay Carlin. "We persevered, having a lot of guys step up and make good things happen. This was a great win against a very, very good basketball team."
"We got a little stagnant on offense in the fourth quarter, and it came back to bite us," said McDonogh 35 Coach Kevin Sanders. "Basically, much of the game was basket for basket. The other thing that hurt us was that goal-tending call. If you take that away, we might have had another chance. But against a team like Salmen, you can't make mistakes like that."