The City boys basketball team will return to the University of Maryland's Comcast Center next this week in a bid to successfully defend its Class 2A state title, starting with a semifinal game play on Friday. The hardest part of the task may have already been accomplished. The Class 2A North was easily , not arguably, the most difficult region in the state, and City survived as much as won, getting past Baltimore City champion Edmondson, 59-58, Saturday at City.
The No. 5 Knights (21-2) overcame an early 11-1 deficit and then a scare in the final seconds when the No. 3 Red Storm (19-3) had a final shot and two tip tries all stay out of the basket.
City senior center Jordan Latham dominated the inside, scoring a game-high 17 points that featured four rim-rattling dunks, and three others reached double figures. figured to capture the region.
"We showed a lot of heart, a lot of heart," Latham said. "Edmondson is a really good team and they were very aggressive, but we came out the better team today. Getting back to Comcast is a beautiful thing. I just really want to win it in my senior year. A lot of players don't get the chance to win two championships, so we're really excited."
The visiting Red Storm came out fast, hitting its first four shots, including three straight 3 pointers, to take an 11-1 lead before the Knights regrouped. City closed out the final 5:21 of the first quarter on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 11 going into the second quarter.
The game It stayed tight throughout until the Knights scored seven straight points early in the fourth quarter, with Latham finishing a dunk and then hitting two free throws for a 48-41 lead with 4:40 to play.
But Edmondson, despite senior leader Jerry Lovelocke fouling out on Latham's free throws, were far from done.
Ranair Pratcher (14 points) scored six straight points and Rodney Pratcher (13 points) hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 59-57 with 2:05 left.
After hitting nine of 10 free throws in the final minutes, the The Knights followed a stretch in which they hit nine of 10 free throws by missing missed four straight in the last final 1:09 of play, giving the Red Storm an opening.
Edmondson trailed 59-58 with the ball in the final seconds, but Ranair Pratcher's shot from the right baselie baseline was deflected, one tip try rimmed out and the second by Stanton Kidd (14 poiints) was deflected by City guard Nick Faust at the buzzer.
Both teams had knocked off state champions in the regional semifinals to get to Saturday's final. The Knights handled last year's defending 3A state champion Lake Clifton, 60-47, and the Red Storm, which won the program's first Baltimore City championship, edged last year's 1A champion, Digital Harbor.