Eleanor Roosevelt senior Emmanuel Matey squirted through the lane, met a North Point defender and powered up through contact to score early in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Maryland 4A boys’ basketball state semifinal.
By the time Matey had peeled himself off the floor to shoot his free throw, the blue-clad fans who made the short trip to the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center had reached full throat. That three-point play capped a 19-3 run that catapulted the fifth-ranked Raiders back to the Maryland 4A final with a 61-58 win over No. 4 North Point.
Roosevelt scored 12 straight points to begin the game. After some tense moments in the middle, the Raiders recovered to deliver the decisive blow. Senior Tiwian Kendley scored a team-high 15 points and senior Lerenzo Foote added 14 in the victory, which was in jeopardy until North Point missed a three-pointer from the top of key in the final seconds.
“I think we play in the best public school league in the state, and we’re not afraid to be in close games,” Raiders Coach Brendan O’Connell said. “We’re used to it. I don’t think they get nervous.”
The Raiders advance to face Magruder in the state final on Saturday at 8 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s title game won by the Colonels.
North Point (24-2) recovered from its nightmare start to take its largest lead at 38-35 with 3 minutes 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
Roosevelt (26-1) responded to take the lead 64 seconds later as part of its decisive burst. Kendley hit a layup on the other end, and after a steal, the Raiders went back in front on a transition three by senior Trevor Evans (11 points).
“When they went on their run, we knew that we would weather the storm and go on our own run later on,” Evans said.
Roosevelt’s lead grew to 13 on Matey’s three-point play, but North Point chipped away to pull within 61-58 on a bucket by Matt Bonds (11 points) with 19 seconds left. After two missed free throws by the Raiders, the Eagles took a timeout with one final chance to tie. They got a clean look but it rattled out and Roosevelt cleared the rebound.
North Point came into the game averaging an area-best 94 points, but in a rematch of last season’s semifinal won at the buzzer by Roosevelt, the Eagles came out cold on a familiar stage and fell into a hole.
Coach Jimmy Ball tried to let his team work through the slow start, and finally took a timeout 5 minutes 24 seconds in when senior Malachi Alexander converted a three-point play that made it 12-0.
The Eagles didn’t crack the scoreboard until senior Matt Bonds connected on a free throw with 2:22 left in the opening quarter, but thanks to six points from senior Naim Muhammad they had cut the lead to six.
North Point senior Marquis Wright, a Loyola recruit, shook off a slow start to score all of his game-high 16 points in the second half.