COLLEGE PARK -- With more than double the number of turnovers (17) as field goals (eight) at halftime, it seemed the magical mystery tour of Old Mill's No. 13 boys basketball team was just about over.
The taller fourth-seeded Patriots (16-10), making their first Final Four appearance, were eventually dismantled, 64-50, by top-seeded Paint Branch's opportunistic defense, and the shooting of 6-foot-2 Division-I prospect Riley Inge (26 points), although the Panthers' did not have a player taller than 6-3.
Despite trailing by 18 in the second and third periods, Old Mill made a game of it down the stretch.
Behind 6-3 Austin Johnson (14 points, 10 rebounds), Terell Eldridge (12, 11) and Henry Wilkerson (seven points), the Patriots began the fourth period with a 9-2 run, cutting into the 48-37 third-quarter deficit and forcing a Paint Branch timeout with 4:06 left.
Paint Branch regrouped and closed with a 14-4 run for the winning margin, but the Patriots earned the respect of Paint Branch coach Hank Golatta.
"They came out aggressive and took control of the boards," said Golatta, whose Panthers took advantage of 26 turnovers. "It wasn't lack of effort on our part, but Old Mill made it look that way."
In tomorrow's 8 p.m. state tournament championship, Paint Branch (23-2) plays No. 2 seed High Point (22-3), a 79-59 winner over No. 3 Crossland (19-5) in the other semifinal.
Old Mill did well to reach the semifinals, considering the dissension among team members before their final regular season loss to Chesapeake--AA. They quickly regrouped , however, for three consecutive victories -- including wins over Region IV top seed Annapolis and over Meade for the regional title.
"We've had some major problems this year internally, so I'm very pleased with what they've done," said Old Mill coach Paul Bunting. "I don't think that they've embarrassed themselves by any means."
In the earlier semifinal, High Point started slow, trailing 13-12 after the first quarter. After that, the Eagles rolled over their Prince George's County rival. They were led by Kenny Avent (19 points) and Herb Baker (12).
Crossland, which lost the regular season contest to High Point, 87-84, got a game-high 22 points from Kenny Franklin.