Late free throws by SHP knocks Menlo out of tie for first

Sacred Heart Prep junior James McLean sank the game-winning free throw with 1.5 seconds left to give the Gators a 47-46 West Bay Athletic League boys' basketball win over crosstown rival Menlo School on Tuesday night.

The Gators improved to 5-0 (10-4 overall) and took sole possession of first place, while the Knights saw their four-game win streak end and fell to 4-1 (5-10 overall).

Sacred Heart's win streak increased to eight games. The Gators are averaging 52.6 points per game in the streak.

"We had to take care of it at home," said Sacred Heart head coach Tony Martinelli. "If you want any chance of winning your league you gotta win at home. That was a good win."

SHP senior guard Casey McDonald got the crowd going when he hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter, giving Sacred Heart a 15-12 lead.

Menlo forward Wes Miller made back-to-back layups to end the first half and cut the Gators' lead to 27-25 going into halftime. Miller had a solid game and finished 12 points.

Knights guard Bobby Roth sank a free throw to end the third quarter, tying the game at 36 going into the fourth quarter. The senior was clutch at the free-thrown line (8 of 10) and led all scorers with 18 points.

Roth came through for the Knights again and hit a runner over two defenders, giving Menlo the 46-45 lead with 50 seconds left in the game.

McLean, meanwhile, was big for the Gators all game long and came through again for Sacred Heart. With 1.5 seconds left on the clock, the junior went up for a 3-point shot and got fouled in the process. McLean made the first shot -- tying the game -- missed the second, and then made his last shot to seal the win. He finished with 14 points.

"That's kind of one of those moments you're always waiting for," said McLean. "You have to come in and be ready for it. It's always exciting to get that opportunity; you've got to make the most of it."

"It felt good because free throws have been an issue for us this year," said Martinelli. "He's a kid who takes it personally when he's missing and he just made it work."

Menlo hurt itself at the line by missing seven free throws.

In other WBAL action Tuesday night, host Pinewood (4-1, 12-3) remained tied for second place with Menlo following a 47-33 win over Eastside Prep while Priory posted a 66-50 win over host Crystal Springs.

Ryan Brice led Pinewood with 14 points with Nathan Beak adding 12. The Panthers held just a five-point lead at halftime before outscoring Eastside Prep in the third period, 20-7.

In Hillsborough, Priory senior Connor Bonfiglio poured in a career-high 30 points and sophomore Scotty Harris added 21 as the Panthers cruised to victory.


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