Forest Park wins again at 7-15, is one win away from state title

Foresters' late 8-point run derails Brunswick, 61-55

Class 1A boys basketball

March 14, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- Some may say Forest Park is one of the worst teams Baltimore basketball has to offer.

But the Foresters are one victory away from being one of the state's best.

Their Cinderella run continued last night with the defeat of Brunswick, 61-55, in a Class 1A state semifinal at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

Forest Park (7-15), which won only two games during the regular season, will play Pocomoke for the state championship today at 1 p.m. The Worcester County team nipped South Hagerstown, 70-69, in the other semifinal yesterday.

Shawn Waller scored a game-high 21 points to lead Forest Park, and Donnell Dobbins added 20. Nathan Shankle led Brunswick (22-4) with 16 points, and Mike Boyce had 13.

Forest Park was able to break away from the Frederick County Railroaders in the closing two minutes.

Holding a slim 53-52 advantage, Forest Park scored eight straight points and held Brunswick without a field goal until the final play.

"We knew, coming in, these games would be a lot tougher than in the regionals," said Forest Park's first-year coach Gregory Warren. "I think it was a little bit of a wake-up call for the kids in the beginning, not that they were over-confident. But they had to adjust to what was on the floor."

Waller, who carried Forest Park offensively in the first four minutes of the decisive quarter, made probably the game's biggest defensive play.

With the Foresters up 55-52 with 34.3 seconds left, Dobbins knocked the ball away near midcourt, leading to a layup by Chris Hurst that put Forest Park ahead, 57-52. After an intentional foul by Brunswick's Shankle, Hurst added two more free throws, and Dobbins had one with 15.2 seconds left, securing Forest Park's fifth straight playoff triumph.

Waller helped Forest Park to a 47-40 lead, scoring his team's first six points in the fourth period on three straight jumpers. The Foresters hit five of their first seven shots of the quarter.

But the Railroaders matched them, hitting seven of their first nine. Shankle's two free throws made it 53-52 with 1: 58 left.

After Jamie Higginbotham missed the front end of an one-and-one for Forest Park, Waller and teammate Dolphus Dixon helped saved the ball near the right baseline, leading to two one-and-one free throws by Dobbins.

"The kids aren't here for the ride. They're here to win," said Warren, whose team will attempt to join Dunbar, Southern-Balto., Lake Clifton and Southwestern as state titlists from Baltimore.

The Foresters would be quick to dispute the notion that they were one of Baltimore's worst teams during the regular season despite their 2-15 mark. They lost nine games by 10 points or less, played city champ Douglass and two final four teams, City and No. 1 Dunbar tough, and breezed through regionals against schools their own size, winning by a 35-point average margin.

FOREST PARK -- Higginbotham 8, Dobbins 20, Hurst 10, Dixon 2, Waller 21. Totals 20 17-24 61.

BRUNSWICK -- Clements 7, Fenzel 8, Shankle 16, Lipscomb 5, Boyce 13, Main 6. Totals 22 5-9 55. Half: B 28-23.

Pocomoke 70, South Hagerstown 69: Mirko Humbert scored a game-high 24 points and Brandon Holden added 16, leading Worcester County's Pocomoke (20-6) past Washington County's South Hagerstown (16-11) in the other Class 1A semifinal.

POCOMOKE -- Holden 16, Humbert 24, Corbin 2, Hickman 13, Wise 5, Jones 8, Davis 2. Totals 25 18-23 70.

SOUTH HAGERSTOWN -- Schnebly 9, Reeder 8, Windle 7, Linton 15, Powell 16, Squibb 6, Green 8. Totals 27 12-23 69. Half: P 34-32.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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