BALTIMORE – The Haverford College men's basketball team ended its season on a high note and went out winners with an 80-78 victory against postseason bound Johns Hopkins in Baltimore on Saturday. The Fords' final performance was not only a showcase for senior Matt Sherman, but quite possibly a sign of things that could be on the horizon as 12 of the 15 players on the roster are currently freshmen or sophomores.
One of those freshmen, Jonathan Lang, exploded for a career-high 25 points as four of the Fords' five starters finished in double figures. Kahlil Garnes added 21 points, while Matt Sherman (12 points) and Jack Cork (10 points) also had big days as the Fords shot 50 percent from the field and over 87 percent at the free throw line. Johns Hopkins, who would have been heading to the second seed in the Centennial Conference Tournament with a victory, was led by Kyle Doran's 20 points. The Blue Jays will still continue their season, but will be placed in the first round game after the Fords' spoiler effort.
Lang shot 10-of-13 from the field, including a 4-of-6 mark from beyond the arc. The Fords more than doubled up the Blue Jays at the free throw line, outscoring their opposition by a 21-9 margin despite just two more chances from the charity stripe. Helping that effort was a school record from Garnes as he went a perfect 12-for-12 in free throw attempts. Previously, Chris Guiton '96 and Tom DelBello '61 had made 11 free throws in a game without a miss before Garnes set a new benchmark for the program.
Saturday's season finale featured 18 ties and 17 lead changes. Haverford held the lead for just under 11 minutes. To complete the team's first win in Baltimore since the 2011 season, the Fords needed a full 40 minute effort as the only time the Fords led by more than a single possession all afternoon came with just one minute to play in regulation. On the other hand, the Blue Jays never got out to a lead bigger than six.
That lone six point lead came when Johns Hopkins scored 10 of the game's first 14 points. To answer that early call, the Fords went on a 7-0 run to jump start a crazy back-and-forth afternoon. After that run to get back in the contest, Johns Hopkins would hold a two possession lead of just four points twice in the remaining regulation time, while Haverford held its aforementioned largest lead with just a minute to play.
Each time JHU pushed the game to multiple possessions; it was Lang who came back with an answer. The Blue Jays' 72-68 lead with 4:02 to play lasted just 17 seconds before Lang knocked down another three. He then came back with a jumper on the ensuing possession to give his side the lead. A jumper from Michael Gardner gave the hosts the lead back, but two more three free throws from Garnes swung the score back in the Fords' favor.
The score would be tied for the final time, 75-all, as Doran knocked down his second of two free throws with 2:11 to play. However, the Fords capped their victory by scoring the next four points and five of the final eight overall. A jumper from Cork gave Haverford a lead it would not relinquish. Lang's final triple of the afternoon gave his side an 80-76 lead with exactly 60 seconds left in the season. The Blue Jays got a basket and had chance for the tying shot, but that final look was off the mark as the final buzzer sounded.
Today's game marked the final appearance of senior Matt Sherman's decorated career. Leaving the court a winner, Sherman will graduate from Haverford ranked fifth in career three-pointers made (123), 10th in total minutes (2,489), 14th in free throw percentage (.761) and games started (74), 15th in points (1,018), and 18th in field goals made (352).