City boys take title for 2nd straight year

Knights' size contributes to 56-45 win over Gwynn Park

March 14, 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 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. "

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, though targeted with a box-and-one defense, scored 19 points to lead the Knights; Latham had 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.

"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.

"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 in the first half. After falling behind by five points early, the Knights began forcing bad shots and denying Gwynn Park in the paint.

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

Faust made certain that City never gave up the lead, nailing a fallaway 3-pointer late in the third.

"I felt it going in once I released it," Faust said. Gwynn Park never pulled closer than three in the fourth quarter.

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

"I feel like if we play tough in our own city, no one can beat us," Latham said.

C-Faust 19, Cheatham 6, Latham 10, Amos 4, Anderson 5, Rasheed 4, Johnson 2, Tapper 6. Totals: 19 14-24 56.

GP-Hemsley 22, Barnes 6, Ford 14, Blue 3. Totals: 13 18-26 45.

Half: City, 25-20.

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