Randallstown takes down Thomas Johnson for title

Balanced offense sparks Rams to a 62-54 victory

Class 3A boys basketball

High Schools

March 11, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Randallstown had four players in double figures and displayed poise down the stretch to capture the Class 3A state boys basketball title with a 62-54 victory over Thomas Johnson of Frederick at Cole Field House yesterday.

In Thomas Johnson (20-6), the Rams beat legendary coach Tom Dickman, Maryland's winningest public school coach at 544-132, including a 7-3 record in state title games. Randallstown's Antoine Jordan called yesterday's game "World War III," referring to the 1995 state final when the Rams beat Thomas Johnson for the school's first championship, only to lose next year's title game.

"I wasn't going to lose here two years in a row," said Randallstown's Antonio McMillion, whose team lost in last year's 3A final to Paint Branch. This season, the Rams lost four players to transfers and two more to academic ineligibility. "Everyone doubted us, but we showed heart, worked hard. Now we're state champs," he said.

McMillion scored 15 points, Jordan had 13, Levi Stokes 12 and Brandon Moragne-El 11.

In the Rams' past two games, Stokes, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, shot 9-for-11 from the foul line, had 19 rebounds and 24 points. Last night, playing with four fouls over the game's final 6:30, Stokes had six boards, and was 6-for-8 at the line. He was 7-for-9 for the game.

"You're not gone until that fifth foul," Stokes said. "My teammates said to calm down, play my game, we'd take this game home."

Randallstown (19-5) showed more composure late in the game. Jordan (eight rebounds) drove the lane for a 53-50 lead on a one-handed shot. Stokes drained a free throw for 58-52 lead with 56 seconds left. About 20 seconds later, Jordan pounced on an air ball, was fouled, and sank a free throw for a 59-54 lead.

Thomas Johnson, conversely, folded. Joe Higbee traveled with 1:48 to go. Jermaine Thomas (25 points) threw a ball out of bounds 18 seconds later. Higbee, who finished 6-for-19 shooting, missed a three-pointer 10 seconds later. Then Thomas committed a charge with 26 seconds left.

"We missed some shots we needed to make; a couple of layups here, foul shots there," said Dickman, whose team was out-rebounded, 48-21. "They did what they had to do to control the game."

Randallstown led 6-0 as McMillion scored four points and blocked a shot to set up the other two, but the first period ended at 20-all. A put-back by Terrence Breaux, followed by a Jordan jumper, had lifted Randallstown to a 24-20 lead in the second quarter. But Thomas' dunk sparked a 7-3 run for Thomas Johnson's first lead, 27-26, with 3:12 left in the half.

Despite a 7-0 run by Randallstown -- comprised of Stokes' three-point play and McMillion's put-back and free throws -- that increased the margin to 33-27, a pair of three-pointers had the Patriots within 34-33 at halftime.

Randallstown fell behind 40-37 in the third quarter, but used an 8-2 run that included a Jordan three-pointer and Chris Wilson's three-point play to retake the lead, 45-42. Moragne-El's buzzer-beating layup had the Rams up 49-44 entering the fourth.

"We've got guys I believe in that nobody else did," Rams coach Kim Rivers said. "They kept playing hard, playing together, believing in themselves. Now they're state champs."

TJ--Higbee 13, Wingerd 3, Wells 5, Foley 8, Thomas 25. Totals: 20 8-11 54. R--McMillion 15, Jordan 13, Moragne-El 11, Stokes 12, Breaux 6, Wilson 4. Totals: 22 15-24 62. Half: 34-33, R

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