COLLEGE PARK -- Catonsville High moved within one victory of the school's first state title in 63 years and denied Oakland Mills a shot at consecutive state titles by running away from the Scorpions, 83-61, in a state Class 3A semifinal yesterday at Maryland's Cole Field House.
Catonsville (25-0) will meet Prince George's County's DuVal in the championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. DuVal (20-5) beat Northern, 73-59, in the other semifinal yesterday.
Catonsville started slow, but thanks to a poor shooting performance by Oakland Mills, the Comets were able build leads of 37-30 at halftime and 56-46 at the end of three quarters. Catonsville then used a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to build a 72-53 lead and take control.
Junior guard Rob Reich hit a three-pointer during that run to spark the Comets. He had an outstanding day from three-point range, hitting four of six attempts and finishing with a game-high 20 points.
"Tonight illustrated we have the ability to put the ball in the basket," said Catonsville coach Art Gamzon. "The kids were real confident in their shooting, particularly No. 30 [Reich]."
The Comets' scoring was balanced as it has been all season. Three other players were in double figures. Five Comets average in double figures.
Senior center Marlon Barbour had 18 points and led the Comets with 15 rebounds. Senior guards David Clark and Louis Smith scored 17 and 15, respectively.
Nothing went right for Oakland Mills (17-8).
The Scorpions shot just 31 percent from the field (23-of-73). Gregg Washington and Caruthers Gant, who led Oakland Mills with 18 and 17 points respectively, were a combined 14 of 41.
"They hit the shots and we didn't," said Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby. "We just didn't play very well for whatever reason, a little bit of them, a lot of us. Whenever we made a little comeback, No. 30 [Reich] would hit another three."
After leading by as much as four in the first half, Oakland Mills trailed, 31-28, late in the first half, but three-pointers by Clark and Reich gave the Scorpions six of the final eight points of the half and their 37-30 halftime lead.
Appleby said after the game that he may have underestimated the Comets.
"I saw them on film, and I didn't think they were that good," he said. "Clark was better than I thought he was."
Clark did an outstanding job of running the Comets offense, dishing out eight assists in addition to scoring 17 points on seven-of-15 shooting from the field.
"In the beginning we had some trouble with our shooting and we had to get with the program because everyone wanted to do everything but in the second half Rob Reich really shot well and we rebounded well," said Clark. "Marlon Barbour and James Lewis did a good job rebounding."