Strong second half lifts Long Reach

Down 17-2 in 1st quarter, Lightning rallies to grab 1st state title in basketball

Long Reach 54 Lackey 49

Class 3A boys basketball

high schools


College Park -- Al Moraz Jr. did what Al Moraz Sr. couldn't do 10 years ago, but the son had help from his father, as No. 9 Long Reach won its first state championship in boys basketball, 54-49, over Lackey of Charles County in yesterday's Class 3A final at Comcast Center.

With Lackey concentrating on Long Reach senior Darryl Webb, the team's leading scorer who was coming off a 33-point game in the semifinals, junior Keith Richardson scored a game-high 18 points.

The 10-year-old school is only the fourth from Howard County to win a state title. The last to do it was Oakland Mills, also in 3A, in 1990. Mount Hebron was the first in 1984, followed by Wilde Lake in 1985.

Coach Moraz Sr., who turned the reins over to his son this season, led the Lightning to a state final in its first year in 1997, but lost with his son as an assistant.

"My dad was so pumped to bring the trophy back to Long Reach [from College Park], but we both agreed that the credit goes to these kids," Moraz Jr. said.

What the Lightning players did was to keep their poise despite a dreadful start. The Lightning (26-2) fell behind 17-2 during the first period and trailed 33-22 at the half as the Chargers (25-2) shot 58 percent (11-for-19) in the first half.

"We've been a second-half team all year," said senior Brian Taylor, 6 feet 4. "I told the team at the half, that if we hold them to 17 points and under, we will win the game."

The Lightning held the Chargers to 16 points over the final 16 minutes and 20 percent shooting on three of 15 from the field. Long Reach outscored Lackey 18-6 in the third quarter, taking the lead at 40-39 on a three-pointer by Daevon Wall with two seconds left in the quarter.

Holding Lackey's Mount St. Mary's-bound Tayvon Jackson to only eight points, the Lightning took a 47-41 lead with 2:37 remaining on a steal and layup by Richardson. The Chargers were down 51-47 with 35 seconds left, but a free throw by Brent Stanford (five points, six assists and four steals) set up by Taylor's defensive rebound and pass gave Long Reach a 52-47 lead with 22 seconds left.

Wall stole the ball for Long Reach on the ensuing Lackey possession, was fouled and made two from the free-throw line with eight seconds left to seal the victory.

"The kids just weren't going to lose and came out in the second half turning the pressure up on defense," Moraz Jr. said.

"We didn't think for a moment that they would blow us out. We had confidence we could get to Comcast and win. This is huge for Long Reach and Howard County."

LR- Stanford 5, Richardson 18, Wall 6, Webb 16, Taylor 4, Cohen 2, Washington 2. Totals: 20 9-20 54. L- Page 10, Delonte 15, Wallace 10, Jackson 8, Cribbs 2, Hurd 4. Totals: 14 14-18 49. Half: L, 33-22.

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