Patterson's dream season falls short in state title game

March 12, 2011|By Glenn Graham | Baltimore Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- When Patterson senior forward Rickey Meekins hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 3:21 left in Saturday's Class 4A state championship game against North Point, giving the No. 1 Clippers their first lead, it looked like the team's season-long goal would be accomplished after all.

Patterson overcame early-game jitters and a 16-point second half deficit with the heart of a champion, but the remaining minutes -- like most of the game -- belonged to the Eagles from Charles County, who came away with a thrilling 76-72 win over the Clippers at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center.

The Clippers end their season with a 25-2 mark, while North Point finishes 27-0.

Despite the tough setback, Patterson coach Harry Martin said there were still plenty of positives found in the Clippers impressive season.

"We won our first [Baltimore City] championship since 1976, we won a region title -- you can't take that away from us. So it's not disappointing at all. We battled, we just came up short to a better team tonight," he said

After Patterson's Myrek Lee-Fowlkes (16 points, 11 rebounds) followed Meekins' basket with two free throws to give the Clippers a 68-65 lead with 2:32 to play, the Eagles responded favorably instead of folding.

Senior guard Gerel Simmons (19 points) got up the court faster than everybody else, converting a three-point play to tie the game at 68 four seconds later.

The Eagles would have to come back one more time after Lee-Fowlkes gave the Clippers a 70-68 lead with 2:08 to play, and they would with sophomore forward Naim Muhammad (20 points, 11 rebounds) scoring two inside baskets and Simmons making four free throws down the stretch.

Patterson's All-Metro sophomore guard Aquille Carr, who finished with 27 points but was frustrated much of the night by North Point's sophomore Marquis Wright, hit two free throws with 1:05 to play -- cutting the North Point lead to 74-72. But the Eagles would keep both the ball and clock moving until Muhammad got loose under the basket for an easy layup with 20 seconds left. The Clippers wouldn't get off another shot in their season, eventually turning the ball over in the final seconds.

"[North Point] was a good team, they had good defensive schemes. They throw a lot of things at you, try to confuse you and try to double team you a lot. I kept my head and stayed in the flow -- they were just a good team," said Carr, who shot 9-for-32 from the field.

While both teams were making their first championship game appearances, it was the Eagles who showed early poise while the Clippers had the jitters.

Shooting the ball better and hitting the boards helped the Eagles jump out to a 12-3 lead midway through the first quarter. Muhammad scored three inside basket during the run with Wright dishing out three assists.

The Clippers were able to settle in shortly afterward, with Carr making his only field goal of the first half during an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to 12-11 with 1:09 to play in the first quarter. But North Point continued to get to the basket in the second quarter while the Clippers struggled to make shots, and the Eagles took a 31-23 halftime advantage.

After going 15-8 last year in Carr's freshman season, Patterson made significant strides. The additions of Meekins, Lee-Fowlkes and Karrell Goines helped the Clippers reach a new level.

They opened the season with 10 straight wins and went into the title game on a 15-game win streak that included the program's first Baltimore City and region titles -- the only blip being a 62-61 loss to New York's Cardoza on Jan. 15 until Saturday's setback. The titles were the first of any kind for the program since 1976, when it captured the Maryland Scholastic Association crown.

Carr vowed the Clippers would return to Comcast next year.

"I'm definitely going to bring my team back next year -- we're just going to have to play extra hard and try to get one," he said.

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