COLLEGE PARK -- Edgewood's high-octane offense ran out of energy last night and the No. 6-ranked Rams lost to Prince George's County's Central, 72-65, in a Class 2A state semifinal at the University of Maryland.
The Falcons (22-4) will play the Baltimore area's top-ranked Dunbar at 6 o'clock tonight for the Class 2A state championship. The Poets advanced to the finals with a 52-39 victory over Middletown of Frederick County.
The Rams, who were averaging 91.6 points coming into the game, struggled in spurts but were able to battle back from double-digit deficits in the second half.
Down by 10 points early in the final quarter, Edgewood got within 68-65 after a three-pointer by Mike Griffin with 38 seconds remaining.
A free throw by Edsel Lindsey gave Central a 69-65 lead with 31.1 seconds remaining. A three-point attempt by Griffin missed, leading to a free throw by the Capitol Heights school's Sean Brooks with 21 seconds left.
A three-point attempt by Edgewood's Allen Jordan missed with 15 seconds left, and a free throw by Jerald Jenkins put the game out of reach at 71-65.
"We kept coming back, but we couldn't get up by at least one," said Griffin, a 6-foot-1 senior guard. "They kept getting to the foul line, and if they didn't make them, we weren't boxing out or grabbing the rebounds."
Griffin led all scorers with 27 points for Edgewood (24-3) and Keith Winder added 12. Jenkins led Central with 18 points and Lindsey added 17.
Trailing 39-28 at halftime, Edgewood opened the second half with nine straight points, including a three-pointer by Griffin, bringing the Rams to 39-37 with 6: 15 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons responded with a 13-0 run to build a 52-37 lead late in the quarter. Central led 52-41 after three periods.
"We missed some foul shots and other opportunities," said Edgewood coach Bob Slagle, whose team's bid for a second straight state title came up short. "We needed to play our best, and I don't think we did that. But we didn't lose this game; they beat us. They're a very good team."
In the first period, the teams combined to fire 37 shots as the Rams gained a 21-19 advantage.
Griffin got Edgewood off to a good start, knocking down a pair of three-pointers. The Rams had a 15-10 advantage after a three-point play by Calvin Corley.
The Rams had their largest lead at 19-12 with 2: 14 left in the first XTC quarter after a layup by Jonathan Booker before Central scored seven straight to tie the game. A basket by Winder with four seconds left gave the Rams a two-point advantage.
After a jumper by Griffin (12 first-half points) tied the game at 23, Central outscored Edgewood, 8-1, to build a 31-24 lead and forced a timeout by Slagle.
EDGEWOOD -- Griffin 27, Jordan 2, Corley 10, Winder 12, Booker 8, Maynard 6. Totals 32 5-19 65.
CENTRAL -- Jenkins 18, Boley 14, Brooks 9, Haigler 3, Lindsey 17, Watford 4, Wilson 6, Barnes 1. Totals 28 16-32 72. Half: C, 39-28.
Pub Date: 3/14/98