After a sluggish first half that carried over into the first four minutes of the third period last night, Southern of Harwood got it in gear and outscored visiting Parkside 44-26 the rest of the way to post a 78-56 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A East Region playoffs.
The victory by the No. 9 Bulldogs (17-4) puts them in tomorrow's 6 p.m. semifinal at Chesapeake College against No. 2 seed Cambridge-South Dorchester (20-1). Top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Dunbar (19-3) meets South River at 8 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Third-seeded Southern led all the way and was tied BOYS BASKETBALL
only once, 2-2 in the opening minute, but couldn't put away the sixth-seeded visitors from Salisbury until the final 12 minutes.
The Bulldogs, making their 25th consecutive playoff appearance under coach Tom Albright, led 16-13 at the end of the first period and 31-20 at the half. Some 14 turnovers by Parkside (6-15) enabled Southern to take the 11-point lead despite shooting 12-for-40 (30 percent) from the field.
Moments into the third period, Parkside mounted a 10-3 run to pull within 34-30 before Chatney Howard and his teammates came to life.
Howard, the metro area's leading scorer with an average of 26.8 points, scored nine in the first half.
Howard, who had a game-high 23 points despite making five of 11 foul shots, scored the Bulldogs' first three points of the third period. Before the period was over, he had scored 11.
Two of his points came on a flying left-handed slam after taking a pass above the rim from Roy Contee.
"We were a little nervous, playoffs and all, but we knew it was show time in the second half," said Howard, who was playing the last home game of his three-year career.
"I wanted to go out with a bang, and I think I did pretty good."
Eddie Paddy (16 points, three rebounds) hit the first of three big three-point plays for Southern in the third period. Howard got the next two, converting single free throws after hitting a basket and Southern was up by 46-38.
Roy Contee's lay-in capped the third period, giving Southern a 51-40 lead, and his brother Corey Contee (11 points, seven steals) ignited an 11-0 run in the final period to push the Southern lead to 63-42.
Howard, the school's second all-time scorer with 1,563 points behind the 1,823 of Vince Barnett (1988 to 1991), made his final basket at Southern a memorable one. Howard, 6 feet 3, took a heave from Corey Contee with 2:28 to go and delivered a reverse dunk that delighted the crowd.
Albright gave Howard a big hug as he left the game shortly after the reverse slam and said afterward, "No more games here, and now we play on a college court about 10 more feet than our gym.
"Cambridge is a real good team, and we will have to beat them down the floor."