About a year ago, Walbrook coach Gus Herrington was standing in an office in the school's gymnasium collecting basketballs after a season-ending loss to Lake Clifton, which ensured his first losing season as varsity coach.
After the Warriors' regular-season finale yesterday against Southwestern, Herrington was putting his team uniforms in the dryer. Only this time, it wasn't to put them into storage, but to have them ready for next week's state 4A playoffs.
The No. 4 Warriors secured at least a top three spot in the state 4A North regionals with an 82-70 victory over the visiting and No. 10 Sabers in a Baltimore City 4A League contest.
Anton Jenifer led all scorers with 30 points for Walbrook (15-4, 9-3) and Travone Broadway added 24, 13 rebounds and six assists. Reginald Johnson led Southwestern (12-8, 6-5) with 23 points.
The Warriors and Sabers will be joining No. 1 Lake Clifton, Perry Hall, Woodlawn and either No. 9 Southern-B or Edmondson in the regionals, with the winner advancing to the state semifinals at Cole Field House.
"We're pleased at what we have accomplished," said Herrington. "The kids have done a real good job at staying focused. We've had some obstacles to overcome, but the bottom line is that every game that we played we go out to win."
Walbrook has lost only to No. 1 Lake Clifton (108-94 and 85-78) and No. 2 Dunbar (104-83), and yesterday, it avenged its only other setback.
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, Walbrook turned up its defense and secured a 12-point advantage early in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors were leading 65-55 with 5:34 remaining, but Southwestern went on a 9-3 run to close the margin to 68-64 with 2:20 left.
Then Jenifer, who was playing with a sore left hand, got free for a layup. His score was followed shortly by a basket by Kevin Elliot, extending Walbrook's lead to 72-64 with 1:56 remaining.
The Sabers got to within six at 72-66 with 1:08 left, but 10-for-11 free-throw shooting by the Warriors was too much for Southwestern.
While Walbrook got 12 points from its bench, it was Broadway and Jenifer, who did it again for the Warriors.
In the first half, Jenifer (18), Broadway (15) and Chris Reynolds (eight) did all the scoring for the Warriors as they built a 41-36 lead.
"Everybody understands their role on this team," said Jenifer. "We really didn't know what we had to do after the first loss to Dunbar, but now, we know what we have to do to win."
* Lake Clifton 96, Edmondson 88: Shawnta Rogers scored 26 and Reggie Frazier added 23 as No. 1 Lake Clifton (19-1) survived a scare from host Edmondson (11-10). The Lakers, who trailed 65-64 after three quarters, outscored the Redskins 30-23 in the last quarter. Terrell Smith scored 28 for Edmondson.
* Dunbar 82, Poly 71: No. 2 Dunbar got 19 points from Robert Foster as it held off a late rally by visiting Poly. Dunbar led 72-36 going into the final period, but the Engineers (14-7) outscored the Poets 35-10.