MC&S come up short, falling to Lincoln Park in boys Class A final

BRADLEY C. BOWER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Math, Civics & Sciences' Mike Watkins had 17 points and 17 rebounds in loss.
BRADLEY C. BOWER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Math, Civics & Sciences' Mike Watkins had 17 points and 17 rebounds in loss.
Posted: March 23, 2014

HERSHEY - Sometimes the harder you squeeze, the more it slips away.

Math, Civics and Sciences Charter can attest after it surrendered two double-digits leads in yesterday's 70-66 loss to Lincoln Park in the Class A state final at the Giant Center.

The Mighty Elephants (15-15) were led by a sensational Samir Doughty, who scored 26 points on 12-for-19 shooting. However, when the 6-4 junior guard headed for the bench with four fouls and his team leading, 57-51, with 7:52 left in the final frame, MC&S struggled to maintain its grip.

"When you lose a guy like Samir Doughty," coach Danny Jackson said, "he settles us down and he gets us a bucket when we need a bucket. And without having that, now we're looking, like, 'OK, who are we gonna go to?' "

In Doughty's stead, the Elephants missed their next 11 shots and didn't score a point until he returned at the 4:42 mark. He later tied the game at 59 with a spinning layup with 2:46 remaining. Lincoln Park won the fourth quarter, 19-9.

In an up-and-down season fraught with finger pointing, Jackson took responsibility.

"I think I did a poor job of keeping [Doughty] in the game with three fouls," the coach said. "He has a strong will and passion to want to play, but as the head coach I should have sat him down . . . I take full responsibility for that because if he's in the game we have a better opportunity to score the ball. Even [he's] not scoring, he draws so much attention from the defense that it makes the game a little easier for everybody else. And by having to sit him down for that length of time, that hurt us severely."

In contrast, Maverick Rowan played all 32 minutes for the top-seeded Leopards (30-1) from District 7. Rowan, a sophomore forward, scored a game-high 37 points (13-for-24, 9-for-9 free throws). Ryan Skovranko was the other Leopard in double figures with 10 points, while 6-9 senior center Elijah Minnie stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds, nine blocks and five steals.

His counterpart for the Pachyderms, 6-7 junior Mike Watkins, finished with 17 points and 17 boards to go with five blocks. Nazeer Bostick, a sophomore forward, added seven points, eight boards and four blocks, while Tyreese Hester (eight points) and Donovan Barnes (eight rebounds) provided support.

"Samir had promised me this game today," Jackson said. "He's passionate. And him and Nazeer are the closest to me. We had a long talk [Thursday] night and a long talk this morning and these guys wanted this. They wanted to win a championship this year and next year. And I think if we do what we need to do in the offseason and get better I think we'll be right back here next year at this same place, probably playing Lincoln Park again because they're a young team as well."

MC&S jetted out to a 14-2 second-quarter run that netted a 32-17 advantage only to see the Leopards respond with a 10-2 spurt. Eventually, an important Rowan three-pointer (2-for-5) with six ticks left seized modest momentum as MC&S led, 38-31, at intermission.

With 1.1 seconds left in the third, Rowan heisted more momentum with a fullcourt inbounds pass to Minnie, who, in one motion, caught and laid the ball in after Watkins whiffed on the pass. The play somewhat negated a 10-0 MC&S run that yielded a 54-42 lead with 2:01 left in the quarter.

"That's that inner Tom Brady," Rowan said. "That gave us a lot of momentum. That play helped us a lot."

The Leopards, who beat Bishop Carroll, 70-28, in the semifinals and won by an average of nearly 45 points in playoff play, never relented despite rarely trailing this season.

"When you have won that much," Jackson said, "you know how to win even if you haven't had to, because you have chemistry and you have continuity. You can tell all those guys like playing with each other, so even when they got down, they didn't really get down. They stayed within the confines of their offense and kept on playing. And slowly and surely they chipped away."

As for MC&S, which owned the glass, 47-32, 18 turnovers proved costly. And so did the time Doughty was a spectator.

"That's when I saw it start slipping away," Doughty said of a few empty possessions he watched from the bench.

Somber in face and quiet of voice, Doughty didn't question his coach's decision to sit him. Not even after promising his coach victory.

"I couldn't blame him," he said. "He did the right thing."

Doughty did, however, maintain his innocence on the foul call, but didn't look for a way out.

"I'm not the type of guy to have excuses," he said. "We just lost. Just take it on the chin as a man."

"I felt as though we could beat them," he continued later. "We were up by 15. We were on top, but we got a little big-headed and they just came back and [we] had a couple dumb plays down the stretch. I promised him that win and I apologize for breaking my promise. I'm just sorry I couldn't do [more]."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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