All-metro Boys Basketball

March 26, 2009

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Will Barton

Lake Clifton

A transfer from National Christian Academy, the 6-foot-6 junior forward turned a good Lakers team into a special one that went 28-0 and won the Class 3A state title.

No player in the area was more consistent or versatile than Barton, who averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Along with his multiple skills at both ends of the court, Barton's enthusiasm, energy and confidence made his teammates better.

Perhaps most impressive is that he excelled while playing within a stringent team concept.

In Lake Clifton's 75-50 win over Friendly in the state-title game, Barton scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter, hitting two three-pointers and a highlight dunk to get the Lakers off to a fast start. He also grabbed nine rebounds, had three assists and made three steals.

In Lake Clifton's toughest playoff test - a 56-54 victory over Milford Mill to win the North region - he made the deciding two free throws with seven seconds left to finish with 15 points. He also had 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the Lakers' win over Digital Harbor in the city championship game.

"As talented as he is, he could have come in here with a big ego, very selfish and into himself, but he didn't. He's just very mature and selfless, and that's what was most impressive," Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried said.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Herman Harried

Lake Clifton

It's one thing to have a surplus of talent and enjoy a fine season. It's another to set the highest standard possible and achieve it.

With a 75-50 win over Friendly in the Class 3A title game, the No. 1 Lakers finished the season 28-0 to become the third Baltimore City school to go undefeated since city schools began competing in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state tournament in the 1992-93 season.

During this season, the Lakers defeated Class 2A state champion City early; took over the No. 1 position with a come-from-behind victory over Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champ St. Frances; and handled Class 1A state champion Digital Harbor to win their second straight Baltimore City championship.

The Lakers had quality returning seniors Jason Sharp and Cleveland Melvin, and then welcomed the addition of standout transfers Will and Antonio Barton. Harried demanded hard work, accountability and a team-first approach and immediately got everyone to buy in.

"It's a great group of young men. I think we have an idea of how hard I work these guys," Harried said after the state-title win. "I tell them to run into a wall, they don't say why, they run into the wall. I tell them to run 100 times, they run 100 times. They've done everything I've asked and more, and they're well deserved of this accomplishment."

In 12 seasons at Lake Clifton, Harried, a Dunbar and Syracuse graduate, is 237-78 with two state championships.

FIRST TEAM

ERIC ATKINS

Mount St. Joseph

The No. 10 Gaels were hit hard by graduation and then lost a number of key players to injuries and other reasons going into the season. But they stayed competitive, largely because of Atkins' stellar two-way play. The junior guard, a three-year starter, averaged 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in leading Mount St. Joseph to a 21-13 record and the semifinals of the Baltimore Catholic League tournament. Atkins also brought a calming influence to the court and had sound fundamentals and good court sense. He was named BCL Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference team. "He showed the caliber of player he is and carried us at times. And the best thing about him is he's only a junior," Gaels coach Pat Clatchey said.

XAVIER DRAKE

Milford Mill

The senior guard consistently made clutch shots to lead the No. 3 Millers (23-4) to the Baltimore County title and a strong run in the Class 3A North region. Drake, a three-year starter and the unquestioned team leader, averaged 15 points, five assists and four rebounds. He hit game-winning three-pointers in the closing seconds to beat No. 6 City and county rival Parkville, and his overwhelming desire to succeed was infectious. "He came to practice early every day and always worked hard. Everybody followed him, and that carried over into our play on the floor," Milford Mill coach Albert Holley said. Against No. 1 and eventual 3A state champion Lake Clifton in the regional final, Drake hit two three-pointers and a layup in the fourth quarter before his last-second three-point try fell just short, 56-54.

JONATHAN GRAHAM

Calvert Hall

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