City captures 2nd straight 2A title, beating Gwynn Park, 56-45

March 13, 2010|By Rich Scherr | Special to The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — It was no mistake when the public address announcer at Comcast Center introduced defending state champion City College as starting two centers in Saturday's Class 2A state final.

On a night when the Knights played far from their best basketball, they used their imposing height in the paint, led by 6-foot-8 Jordan Latham and 6-foot-7 Aron Nwankwo, to frustrate opposing Gwynn Park all night, holding the Prince George's team to 29 percent shooting in a 56-45 win.

"I wanted to put our size out there," said City coach Mike Daniel, who has started dual centers for the past handful of games. "We wanted to go and work., We wanted to challenge shots, and we wanted to rebound the basketball. I thought we did a good job of that."

City (23-2), which ended its season with 11 straight wins, became the first Baltimore City team to win back-to-back state titles since Dunbar completed its run of four straight in 2006.

Forward Nick Faust, despite being targeted with a box-and-one defense, scored 19 points to lead the Knights, with Xavier-bound Latham adding 10 points and eight rebounds.

Gwynn Park (20-6), ranked No. 15 by The Washington Post, got a game-high 22 points from forward Mike Hemsley, who made seven of 10 shots from the field.

The rest of the Yellow Jackets shot a combined six for 35, with top scorer Brandon Ford finishing with 14 points -- six below his average -- on 3-13 shooting.

"Our weakness all season long has been that we're not a tremendous outside shooting team," Yellow Jackets coach Mike Glick said. "For us, City posed probably our toughest matchup because they played a really wide zone, they're long and they shaded everything toward Brandon, and wouldn't let Brandon get shots off.

"It's really hard to win when you're playing against a great team and you can't put the ball in the basket."

City used its imposing inside defense to establish control of the game in the first half. After falling behind by five points early, the Knights began forcing bad shots and denying Gwynn Park in the paint, holding it without a fieldgoal for the next 9 minutes.

Though sloppy on offense themselves, the Knights took advantage, scoring 11 of the next 13 points to pull ahead. When Latham put back his own miss under the basketball with just under 5 minutes left in the half, City extended its lead to 21-15.

Faust made certain that City never relinquished that lead, nailing a fallaway three-pointer from the top of the key late in the third to keep his team in control.

"I felt it going in once I released it," Faust said. "Early in the game I didn't put up any shots, but I knew in the second half I was going to be ready and I was going to make the shots."

Gwynn Park never pulled closer than three in the fourth quarter.

City credited its exceptionally difficult schedule against Baltimore City opponents for its ability to flourish against regional and state competition.

"It's just real tough to get out of our city. I feel like if we play tough in our own city, no one can beat us," Latham said.

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of City's Jordan Latham. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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