By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
The Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins squandered an eight-point fourth quarter lead but came up with clutch baskets down the stretch when it mattered most to take the GSSSA senior boys basketball title.
Doris Johnson outscored the CI Gibson Rattlers 16-8 in the final five minutes to take game three and the series 67-59 last night at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
Malachi McCoy had 14 points and 16 rebounds to lead six Mystic Marlins players to score at least seven points. Janus Shepherd scored 14, Jaythan Belle had 10, Tyeko Lowe and Joshua Burrows each finished with nine while Matthew Saunders chipped in with seven.
Lowe made several key plays down the stretch and his driving layup with under a minute left to play gave the Mystic Marlins a 60-55. He deflected a pass on the ensuing possession and Joshua Burrows’ finished the fastbreak layup to seal the win.
Derico Burrows was the lone Rattlers player in double figures with 13 points while Jaden Strachan and Jaheed Sanusi each scored nine.
The Rattlers entered the fourth quarter trailing by eight, but Derico Burrows scored five straight to cut the lead to three, 51-48 with 5:11 left to play. Sanusi tied the game with a three-pointer on the very next possession, but Shepherd stole the inbounds pass and regained the Mystic Marlins lead with his fastbreak layup. Joshua Burrows went baseline for a floater on the next possession and after Strachan scored for the Rattlers, Lowe came up with an offensive rebound and putback for a four-point lead with just under two minutes remaining.
Both teams set the tone early and the game opened with five consecutive field goals made before the first missed shot. Shepherd scored six in the opening quarter and was perfect from both the field and the free throw line. Joshua Burrows’ pull up jumper gave the Mystic Marlins a 21-14 lead at the end of the first.
Rus-Shorn Strachan’s free throws made it 25-22 midway through the second, but McCoy and Michael Balfour would respond with back to back scores. Saunders followed with a three pointer to take a 10 point lead, 32-22. Emmanuel Alexander scored on a pair of steals and fastbreak layups to ignite the Rattler crowd, but Doris Johnson maintained a 35-27 lead at the half.
Shepherd went baseline and scored on a driving layup on the opening play of the third to take a 10 point lead. The run continued and they led 44-30 at 5:14 mark when he left with an apparent leg injury. Balfour’s baseline jumper gave Doris Johnson 15 point lead and Lowe followed with a three-point play to go ahead 49-31 with under four minutes left to play in the third. The Rattlers got back to back threes from Burrows and Strachan to cut the lead to 10. Darryo Saunders followed with a layup on the next possession to trim it to single digits for the first time since the first quarter, 49-41, headed into the fourth.
The Rattlers took game one, 74-57, behind 21 points and 12 rebounds from Rus-Shorn Strachan. The Mystic Marlins kept their season alive with a game two win led by 19 points and 10 rebounds from Janus Shepherd.
The 2019 championship was a renewed chapter in the rivalry between the Mystic Marlins and the Rattlers after a two-year hiatus. It represented the fourth time in the last six years that the two schools met to decide the senior boys’ title.