Prince George's County was the big winner at Saturday's state boys basketball finals at the University of Maryland, winning titles in three of the four classifications, but Harford County, never noted for basketball, grabbed some attention with a state title and a second-place finish.
Joppatowne became the first boys team since Prince George's County's Gwynn Park (1987-88) to win back-to-back state titles, beating Pocomoke, 67-47, in Saturday's Class 1A championship game.
Edgewood stayed with favored Forestville for three quarters, but the Rams (24-2) couldn't keep up with Forestville's inside strength, losing, 77-59, in the Class 2A title game.
Joppatowne (20-4), which returned three starters from last year's state championship team, needed two strong fourth-quarter efforts in the semifinals and final after its opponents employed tight zone defenses that slowed the Mariners' offense for three quarters.
In Friday night's semifinal, Joppatowne defeated Williamsport, 56-39. The Mariners outscored Williamsport, 21-9, in the fourth quarter after leading, 35-30, after three quarters.
Saturday, Joppatowne outscored Pocomoke, 37-10, in the fourth quarter to overcome a seven-point deficit after three quarters and roll to a 67-47 victory.
The 37 points were six points shy of the tournament record for points in one quarter but were easily the most scored in one quarter by any team during this year's tournament.
Coincidentally, the Mariners also scored the least amount of points in a quarter at this year's tournament when they trailed after the first quarter of the championship game, 7-5.
The key for Joppatowne, which struggled through the first three quarters, hitting just 12 of 41 field goals, was that the Mariners remained intense and continued to hustle on defense although it was apparent they were frustrated by the zone. In the fourth quarter, it paid off as they made 13 of 15 field goals. Senior guard Terrence Cain scored 18 points in the fourth quarter.
"You don't win two state championships with kids that quit," said Joppatowne coach Mike Bauer. "We pride ourselves on defense. Seventy-five percent of our practices are defense."
The unsung hero for Joppatowne was senior forward B.J. Barnes. He had nine steals in two games and did a magnificent job of shutting down Pocomoke junior forward Mike Roberts in the championship game.
Roberts had scored 19 of his team's 37 points through three quarters, hitting eight of 14 field goals. Joppatowne switched to a triangle-and-two defense in the fourth with Barnes on Roberts. Roberts failed to score in the fourth, missing all six shots.
Baltimore County's shot at its first state title since 1988 (Milford Mill) and Catonsville's bid for an unbeaten season didn't last long in the Class 3A title game, as third-seeded DuVal of Prince George's County had too much height, quickness and leaping ability for the Comets (25-1). The result was an 85-66 victory for DuVal.
"I don't rank teams and I don't rate teams. I don't want to minimize Catonsville's effort," DuVal coach Artie Walker said. "They played hard and were well-coached. They deserved to be undefeated. But you can't coach quickness, speed or athleticism."
The state does not select an all-tournament team but here are five players who probably deserved the honor along with pertinent two- game totals: Irvin Church, Parkdale (51 points, eight three-pointers for 4A champs, who beat Annapolis, 62-60, in the semifinals Friday); David Clark, Catonsville (39 points, four three-pointers, 18 rebounds, 14 assists); Kevin Hockaday, Joppatowne (29 points, 22 rebounds, 11 of 20 from field); Carl Turner, DuVal (61 points, 14 rebounds, six assists); and Roberts, Pocomoke (48 points, 19 rebounds).
State basketball championships
Boys Class 4A: Parkdale 68,
Class 3A: DuVal 85, Catonsville 66
Class 2A: Forestville 77,
Class 1A: Joppatowne 67,
Class 4A: Old Mill 53,
Class 3A: DuVal 60,
Oakland Mills 42
Class 2A: Mount Hebron 60,
Class 1A: Westmar 76,
North Caroline 58