Tied 59-59 with 1:15 left Friday against Princess Anne, the Landstown boys basketball team leaned on its seniors’ poise to close the curtain at home.
Forward Bryson Stukes skied for a crucial rebound after an Eagles missed shot and scored the go-ahead layup with 31 seconds left. After a Cavaliers miss, Daryus Evans drew a foul and made both free throws to give Landstown a four-point cushion. A Princess Anne bucket cut the lead to 63-61, but Maurice Jones iced the game with two more free throws, giving the Eagles a 65-61 win.
“They wanted the ball in their hands down the stretch,” Landstown coach Dwight Robinson said of his seniors. “They sealed the game for us tonight.”
Evans finished with a team-high 20 points while adding two rebounds. Jones had 14 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Freshman forward Michael Christmas played like a savvy veteran with 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
The Eagles (2-1) started sluggishly and entered halftime down 25-21. Princess Anne’s man-to-man defense held Landstown to seven points in the second quarter and forced the Eagles into bad shot selections and four turnovers that led to six fast-break points.
“I told the guys at half, if you just trust the offense, we’ll be fine,” Robinson said. “We were too impatient. Finally, we found some mismatches and let the offense work for us.”
The third quarter was a different story. Landstown more than doubled its scoring output from the entire first half. Its scrappy defense led to easy transition baskets, and in their halfcourt sets, the Eagles didn’t settle for the first look. Instead they were disciplined, spread the ball and found the open shooter.
The Eagles built an 11-point lead before the Cavaliers closed the quarter on a 9-0 run, making the score 43-41.
Princess Anne (3-1) carried that momentum into the fourth and tied the game at 47-47 with five minutes remaining.
The Eagles opened a 56-50 lead, but Cavaliers center Michael Barfield-Owens refused to let the game slip away. The junior center was the best player on the floor Friday night, finishing with a monstrous 30 points, 20 rebounds, three blocks and three assists.
But Barfield-Owens’ impressive fourth-quarter effort (10 points, seven rebounds, one assist) wasn’t enough.
“Late, we didn’t find him,” Robinson said of Owens. “He was so active, going after every rebound, even if it wasn’t his. He played with a lot of energy and kept them in the game.”
Cavaliers senior guard Quevon Jackson finished with seven points and five assists. Junior Brandon Porter added seven rebounds, while junior guard Phillip Gill (nine points on three 3-pointers) was instrumental in Princess Anne’s late third quarter rally.
After an ugly 62-36 loss to Salem the week before, Robinson said he was proud to see his team pull out a win that went down to the wire.
“We’re still learning how to win,” Robinson said. “Closing that one out was huge.”