By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 13, 2009
Second-ranked Springbrook wasted a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and needed a buzzer-beating three-pointer just to force overtime. Then the Blue Devils went cold from the foul line and saw their own victory celebration dashed by a last-second three-pointer. Finally, in the second overtime, with its best player having fouled out, Springbrook found a way to move one game away from its second consecutive Maryland 4A championship.
Deshaunt Walker and Zaid Hearst scored baskets early in the second overtime period and Jeremy Williams -- whose heroic shot forced extra play in the first place -- made two free throws with 26 seconds left to seal a 74-69 victory over Walbrook of Baltimore last night in a Maryland 4A semifinal before 3,000 at Comcast Center.
It was the 35th consecutive victory for Springbrook and, much like its last game on this court, it was quite dramatic. The Blue Devils trailed by 18 points in the third quarter before rallying for a 61-57 victory over Thomas Stone in last year's championship game.
"We've won so much, our kids don't know how to lose," Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell said. "They didn't panic too much."
In its return to the state tournament, though, it was Springbrook (26-0) that seemed in control of the game, only to allow Walbrook (23-4) to stay just close enough. Star forward Roscoe Smith, a highly-touted junior, had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.
Forward Jamal Olasewere was sensational much of the game, helping stake the Blue Devils to a 48-38 lead early in the fourth quarter. He finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out midway through the second four-minute overtime.
Olasewere also had a key assist. After Walbrook took the lead in the final minute of regulation, pulling ahead 60-57 on two free throws by Donte Stuckey with 15 seconds left, Olasewere dribbled toward the top of the key and passed to Williams open on the right wing. Williams's shot bounced off the front of the rim and caromed a few feet into the air before softly falling through the basket just before the horn sounded to end regulation.
While both teams struggled offensively in the first overtime, Springbrook never trailed. The Blue Devils had chances to put the game away but missed 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute. Given a final chance to tie, Walbrook junior guard Denzel Walker (22 points) made a contested three-pointer from just left of the top of the key with six seconds left, bringing the Warriors even at 66-66.
In the second overtime, Walker's runner from the right wing and Hearst's second-chance basket made it 70-66. After Olasewere fouled out, Walbrook pulled within 70-69 on Stuckey's curling basket in the lane. But Brandon Davis made 1 of 2 free throws and Williams finally clinched the victory.
No. 2 Springbrook 74 Walbrook 69 Up Next: Springbrook will play No. 12 Wise in the Maryland 4A final tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Comcast Center. Double the Fun? Springbrook is trying to become the first school in 41 years to repeat as Maryland state champion in the tournament for schools with the largest enrollments.