Alexander Jackson didn't see the ball go in with three seconds left, because he was sprawled out on the floor behind the basket, but he heard the Randallstown crowd erupt.
Jackson's drive to the basket and subsequent layup and headfirst slide across the floor gave the host and No. 5 Rams a thrilling 59-57 win over No. 6 Douglass for the Class 2A North regional title yesterday.
It was the fourth straight regional title for the Rams (22-3), who earned a chance at a fourth consecutive state title.
All four straight wins in the regional finals have come over their fierce rival, Douglass, which last beat Randallstown in the 2004 regional final and went on to win the state championship.
"It was as good a game as Duke and North Carolina," Rams coach Kim Rivers said. "That was a great game, one of the best I've coached since I've been here. And Alex Jackson came through. When they got it to him down low, he was able to operate and do his thing. Not too many people stop him in a one-on-one. Douglass probably should be going to the Comcast [Center] with us."
Randallstown will play at the University of Maryland arena at 7 p.m. Friday against the 2A East winner.
"Me and Tione [Womack] tried to work the pick and roll, and try to have him go to the bucket, or with me to go to the bucket for the give and go," said Jackson, a 6-foot-3 junior who led the Rams with 17 points and nine rebounds.
"But things kind of fell to pieces and I just stepped up and tried to make a big play. I didn't see it. When I fell, I was just hoping it rolled in because it was bouncing around in the cylinder."
Douglass (20-6) then had to go the length of the court, but never got the ball past midcourt and could only get off a desperation shot that wasn't close.
Omar Strong, the Ducks' leading scorer, had a game-high 22 points. Strong did not score in the third period because of Derek Fickling's defense, but the senior guard scored the Ducks' last nine points in the final 4:12 of the game.
Strong, an All-Metro pick last year as a junior, tied the game three times in the final three minutes - at 53 with a free throw, at 55 on a drive and at 57 on a turnaround jumper with 34 seconds left.
"Douglass is a tough team and Omar Strong almost carried them to victory," Jackson said.
"We got out of here lucky."firstname.lastname@example.org