For most of this season, Catonsville's Louis Smith sat out with a broken right leg. Last night, in the Comets' Class 3A, Region III final against visiting Elkton, he more than made up for a season of frustration.
The 6-foot-2 guard scored a team-high 23 points to lead the Comets to a 72-63 win before an overflow crowd of 1,500.
Catonsville (24-0) advances to the state Class 3A semifinals in College Park.
"I can't even begin to explain how this feels," said Smith, who connected on 10 of his 15 shots, including eight of nine in the second half. "[Elkton] just got tired in the second half. We kept on running guys in and out while they didn't have anyone on the bench."
The Elks (16-6) went with their starting five for most of the game, and didn't make their first substitution until 39 seconds were left in the third quarter. Catonsville tired Elkton further by playing full-court, man-to-man defense in the second half.
"Their fatigue was a major factor," said Comets coach Art Gamzon, who used an eight-player rotation. "With two or three minutes left, they were exhausted and we were still fresh. We pressed them in the second half to try to wear them down. I'd say we did it."
Elkton stayed with Catonsville for most of the game, and even held a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But in a hot gym, the Elks wore down.
Smith hit his final four shots en route to nine fourth-quarter points. His layup with 5:40 left gave Catonsville the lead for good at 54-53 lead.
Center Marlon Barbour (14 points) extended the lead on a 10-footer, making it 62-56 with 2:48 to play.
Elkton failed to answer, as point guard Tim Webster (game-high 32 points ) was a one-man offense. Of Elkton's 13 fourth-quarter attempts, Webster shot eight.
"Webster got really fatigued near the end," said Elkton coach James Barrow. "We couldn't afford to pull him. We just have no depth."