Minutes after defeating Dundalk for the Class 3A North region title, several members of the victorious Randallstown team held their championship plaques over their heads in celebration.
One player, however, reminded his teammates that there was more work to be done.
"This is nothing," he said. "We want to win back-to-back state titles."
The defending Class 3A state champion Rams moved one step closer to their goal with yesterday's 70-62 win over host Dundalk.
No. 12 Randallstown advances to the state semifinals for the third consecutive year and the fourth time since 1990. The Rams will meet Kennedy, a 58-52 winner over Thomas Johnson, on Thursday at Cole Field House at 5 p.m.
"The guys are looking at this [winning the region title] as something that they can remember, but we've talked about winning the state championship all year," said Randallstown's second-year coach, Kim Rivers. "I'm just glad to be a part of the final four teams. I look forward to my guys trying to play their best basketball and me preparing them to the best of my ability."
Junior forward Jerry Venable, starting in place of the injured Dominique Liverpool, scored 15 to lead a balanced Randallstown offense. Forward Larry Montgomery (14 points), forward Brian Broden (14) and point guard Troy Lewis (11) also scored in double figures for the Rams.
Gerald Jones scored 23 to pace Dundalk.
Randallstown (19-4), which led by as many as 18 points in the first half, had to weather a furious Dundalk rally in the fourth quarter.
The Owls (19-7) pulled within eight in the third quarter, but Randallstown stretched its advantage back to 13 by the end of the period and led, 62-47, with 4:59 remaining in the game.
Dundalk then turned up its intensity with a trapping, full-court press. The Owls forced turnovers on five of Randallstown's next eight possessions to spark a 13-2 run that slashed their deficit to 64-60 with 1:32 left.
After another Randallstown turnover, Dundalk's Kevin Boatin went to the foul line to shoot two free throws with :42 remaining. He made the first to pull the Owls to 64-61, but missed the second. Sean Winston followed with a tip-in that would have brought the Owls within one, but he was called for interference.
That's as close as Dundalk would get. From there, the Rams went six-for-six from the foul line to seal the victory.
"We knew we just had to keep our composure, and knock down our free throws when we got to the line," said Lewis, who made both ends of a one-and-one with :21 left to expand the Rams' lead to 68-61.
Randallstown used its height advantage to dominate the Owls inside. The Rams out-rebounded Dundalk 22-11 on the offensive boards and 40-29 overall.
When Randallstown's front line got in foul trouble, however, the Rams showed they could run.
"We didn't have the size advantage with our big men on the bench, so we wanted to see if they could get back on defense if we control the defensive boards," Rivers said.
Randallstown used its fast break to outscore Dundalk, 26-16, in the second quarter and threatened to turn the game into a rout.
But the scrappy Owls -- who got off to an 0-5 start after graduating their top five scorers last season -- did not wilt.
"We showed a lot of character coming back, but we're just not as deep as they are," Dundalk coach Andy Pons said.