When Paul Grier took over the fledgling basketball program at Carroll County's Bowling Brook Prep three years ago, he set out to accomplish one specific goal.
"I wanted to get us on the map," said Grier.
After a 59-51 win over Park School last night in the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference title game at Goucher College, his mission is accomplished.
Bowling Brook (14-6) -- in its first year of league play -- rallied from a 13-point, third-quarter deficit to overtake Park with 5:05 left, then held the Bruins in check the rest of the way.
For the players, that spelled sweet victory.
"Our coach always tells us when we're down that we're never out of it," said Thoroughbreds guard Vincent Garrett, who led all scorers with 23 points.
"It was crunch time for us, and we came out and played harder, smarter and better."
Trailing 38-25, Bowling Brook outscored Park 34-13 the rest of the way.
Grier said he didn't make any big adjustments at halftime, other than telling his team it had to turn up the pressure on defense.
The third-year coach, in fact, said he hardly spoke in the locker room.
Instead, he let athletic director Mike Sunday and assistant athletic director Nick Amaker do the talking.
"They said, 'This is your game to win, and you've got to make it happen,' " said Grier.
"I couldn't believe those guys were getting more loose balls than us, but I knew that with these guys we are never out of the game," Grier said.
For the Bruins (8-8), however, the game seemed firmly in hand until midway through the third quarter.
After missing its first six shots, and falling behind 7-1, Park got untracked on offense.
The Bruins, who shot 56 percent the rest of the half, went on a 14-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 15-9 lead with a minute left in the first quarter.
Bowling Brook closed the gap to three points, at 26-23, late in the first half before the Bruins again pulled away with a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 32-23 at the break.
Cameron Stanley led Park's offense in the first half, with 13 of his team-high 17 points.
But after playing a nearly flawless first half, Park -- already losers to the Thoroughbreds twice during the regular season -- began to fall apart.
"For us to win, we had to play pretty close to a perfect game," said Bruins coach Lucky Mallonee.
For Park, making it to the finals was a major accomplishment. Mallonee took over at midseason, replacing Web Johnson.
After starting 2-6 under Johnson, the team won six of its last seven to gain the final.
"I told the kids that just to get here was something special," said Mallonee.
For Bowling Brook, however, settling for second best just wasn't the cards.
After just one season in the MSA C Conference, the team has gained more recognition than in all its previous years put together.
"They told us coming in that it wasn't going to be easy," said guard James Singletary, who scored 15 points. "We put in long hours of practice to get where we are. It feels really good."