The pre-game break, the motivation and the height all belonged to Walbrook.
That combination was enough to propel the Warriors past Lake Clifton, 76-70, last night at Morgan State and into the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship game Sunday at the Baltimore Arena.
The first West Baltimore public school to make the A Conference final, Walbrook profited when Southern dropped to second in Division II on Monday after forfeiting nine victories for using an ineligible player.
It put the Warriors on top in the division and meant they would not open the tournament against Dunbar, the No. 1 high school team in the nation and champion of the A Conference's Division I.
Instead, Walbrook was pitted against a Lakers team that upset the Warriors at home last month, 79-72, when 5-foot-5 Lake Clifton freshman Shawnta Rogers scored 38 points.
"I think they had a lot of incentive to beat us," said Lakers coach Charlie Moore.
It showed immediately when Walbrook roared to a 12-0 lead at the start and ended the first quarter up 20-5. The Lakers did not score until 3:28 remained in the period, when Anthony Lang hit a jumper.
"We dug a big hole early, then had to fight like hell to get back in it," said Moore. "We got the lead, but then free throws hurt us."
Lake Clifton missed 15 of them. Foul trouble and a back injury to sophomore center Terrance Payne also hurt the Lakers, robbing them of their precious little height down the stretch. The fifth-ranked Warriors (14-9) weathered the counterattack and never trailed after Sean Gross hit a layup with two minutes left in the third quarter for a 43-41 edge.
They expanded it to as many as 12 (63-51) and were never in serious trouble.
"Usually, the second time around there's a little extra motivation," said Walbrook coach Gus Herrington. "We felt like we didn't have anything to lose and got a good team effort. We did what had to be done."
Hard-working swingman Eric Carroll did most of the damage with 24 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, and senior center Jermaine Porter scored 20. The Warriors hit 53 percent from the field (25 of 47).
Rogers had 21 to top the third-ranked Lakers (13-5), but was not nearly the factor he was in the first meeting, hitting only six of 16 from the field.
"We tried to keep a fresh body on him at all times," said Herrington. "We wanted to pick up and not allow him to run wild. Tonight, it worked."