Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore stomped along courtside yesterday, waving his hands furiously while glaring at the slowly winding clock.
Although the Lakers were ahead, their marginal foul shooting made a 10-point lead evaporate and put Walbrook right back into the game.
Hitting just 17 of 26 free throws in the fourth quarter, No. 4 and host Lake Clifton barely held off No. 14 Walbrook for an 83-78 victory in a Class 4A North semifinal matchup. The Lakers (20-2), the defending Class 4A state champions, play at Southern-Balto. today in the regional final at 3:30 p.m.
"We practice bending at the knees and following through at least three or four times a day," Moore said. "It's just a matter of transferring practice into the game. They gave me about two heart attacks out there."
A driving layup by Kevin Braswell gave Lake Clifton a 74-64 lead with 3:22 remaining in the game. Then as the Lakers missed one of every two foul shots in their next two possessions, the Warriors hit three straight baskets.
William Brown's slashing drive with 1:09 left closed Walbrook to within 76-71. And after Lake Clifton's Rodney Bass converted one of two foul shots, Greate White made a three-pointer for Walbrook to cut the lead to 79-76 with 42 seconds left.
The Warriors managed only one more field goal the rest of the game, allowing the Lakers to pull away by hitting just five of their last eight free throws. For the game, Lake Clifton made 34 of 53
foul shots (64 percent).
"We got out of sync near the end," Braswell said. "A lot of teams fold, but we came back together."
Braswell, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, salvaged the win for Lake Clifton.
After missing several outside shots, Braswell consistently drove to the basket and drew fouls. As a result, he accounted for seven of the Lakers' final 12 points.
Dante Lemmon and Bass combined for 24 second-half points to finish with 24 and 20 points, respectively.
"Most teams play me to shoot the ball from the outside," Braswell said. "But I forced a lot of shots, and decided to take the ball inside."
Walbrook started quickly, running out to a 11-5 lead after a driving baseline layup by White at 3:39 of the first quarter. The Warriors broke Lake Clifton's pressure with long passes and found the open man under the basket.
But the Lakers turned up their intensity in the final five minutes of the second quarter. Stealing the ball on four consecutive Walbrook possessions, Lake Clifton went on a 9-2 run to take its first lead, 28-26, with 2:05 left before halftime.
The Warriors collected themselves to retake the lead, but Braswell put Lake Clifton ahead, 32-30, at halftime.
"Lake Clifton's pressure defense was the difference," Walbrook coach Gus Herrington said. "We turn the ball over a lot, and their pressure really hurt us."