When asked what his Glen Burnie boys basketball team had to do differently to get past a Broadneck team that had taken both regular-season games, coach Mike Rudd didn't get into specifics before the game.
He just said his team had to play a whole lot better.
The visiting No. 12 Gophers did just that in last night's Class 4A East region semifinal - particularly on the boards, at the defensive end and from the free-throw line - to come away with a 62-49 upset of the host No. 5 Bruins that sends them to the regional title game.
Glen Burnie (19-5) will travel to Thomas Stone - a 90-54 winner over Old Mill in the region's other semifinal - at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
In getting there last night, the Gophers got 18 points each from Garrett Blackstone and Kareem Downs, a second half where the team hit 22 of 33 free throws and a key 30-second stretch in the closing minutes.
Protecting a 49-45 lead with 2:05 to play, Desean Antoine had a block at one end and then finished up with a layup. Downs then followed with a three-pointer in the left corner on the Gophers' next possession to increase the lead to 54-45 lead.
All that was left were free throws and a celebration as the Gophers knocked off the Anne Arundel County champion Bruins, who ended their season 22-3.
"The big difference was, we knew we had to work a lot harder than we did the first two games we saw them. It feels good, but there's still a lot of hard work left and we're still very humble," said Blackstone.
The Bruins, who got a game-high 27 points from J.J. Hicks, took a 23-20 lead into halftime. But they got hit with fouls in the third quarter that would help Glen Burnie (10 for 13 from the line in the quarter) take a 41-35 lead into the fourth quarter. The home team stayed close behind Hicks, who scored 12 in the fourth quarter, until the Gophers pulled away in the final two minutes.
"I just thought we settled down in the second half - that was the key," Rudd said.