There was a hint of excitement in Dennis Seddon's voice for maybe 3 seconds.

Then again, there was noise in the background and he was probably just making sure his comments, delivered via cell phone, could be heard.

Victory No. 500 in the wildly successful career of Roman Catholic High's 22-season basketball coach was just like 1 through 499. To this guy, ego might as well be a four-letter word.

Roaring back from a 12-point deficit in the final 3 minutes, 20 seconds, the Cahillites (3-0) last night bested Bishop McNamara, of Forestville, Md., 63-61, in the first round of the Gonzaga DC Classic, held in Washington at the high school of the same name. Tonight's semis and tomorrow's final will be staged at American University.

Seddon's record stands at 500-122. And you don't stand a chance of getting him to boast.

"All this means, really, is that now we go after 501," he said. "And that I've been around a long time. I have good assistants and good kids. That's the secret formula. This may be important to some of our fans and people around school. But I like to go with the Satchel Paige philosophy - if you look back, something might be gaining on you."

Fourth-year assistant Chris McNesby, a guard for Seddon in the mid-1990s, described him as "a classy guy, and very unassuming. He's refreshing in an age when so many coaches put themselves ahead of the team."

Seddon said McNamara star Marc Hill, who'd already nailed three treys, launched about a 25-foot, left-wing bomb just before the buzzer.

"I thought it had a real good chance, honestly," he said. "It just hit the left side of the rim and bounced out."

Pause. "That comes from good living."

Junior guard Maalik Wayns, already committed to Villanova, scored 27 points for Roman. Rakeem Brookins added 17. Will Kirkland (nine), Courtney Stanley (six) and Aaron Brown (four) completed the scoring. Will's twin, Wes, made other contributions, but did not score.

Seddon is the sixth coach in city history to reach 500. He joins Dan Dougherty, Bud Gardler, Bill Fox, Charles "Obie" O'Brien and William "Speedy" Morris and only Morris (with 113 losses) hit the milestone faster.

Seddon's first 21 seasons produced a CL-record 10 championships, an accomplishment highlighted by six in a row beginning in 1989. His 2006-07 squad claimed the crown and this year's is viewed as a strong contender.

"The reason we travel all over is to bring the kids closer together and let them see what else is out there," said Seddon, a product of North Catholic and La Salle University. "But the underlying reason is to prepare for Catholic League play. For us that's always what's most important."

After Seddon's feat was announced to the spectators, the Cahillites headed for the locker room and their coach arrived a short time later.

"The kids stood up and applauded," he said. "That was nice of them."

He then added in jest, "The guys who stood up first were the ones who are looking for more playing time."

When asked how long he intends to wield a clipboard, Seddon replied, "Until it stops being fun . . . Tonight, it's fun." *