Five teams from Prince George's County played for championships Saturday at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association basketball tournaments. Games started with the DuVal girls at 1 p.m. in Catonsville and concluded nearly nine hours later.
During that time, three state champions were crowned, some fans and players went home disappointed, and others left exhausted. A look at the day, from beginning to end:
10 a.m. -- DuVal, facing a quick turnaround after a victory in Friday's semifinals, arrived at school and spent an hour in a shootaround and final preparations for its game against Walkersville, set to tip off three hours later. DuVal Coach Walter Clark stresses the importance of intensity against a Frederick County team that had never made a state final appearance. The team then loads on the bus for the trip to UMBC.
11:14 a.m. -- Chuck Brown, in his 23rd and final season as director of the boys' tournament, arrives at Comcast Center two hours before the first game and starts game-day operations.
Brown, 67, who spent 34 years working for the Prince George's County school system before retiring in 1997, has plenty of responsibilities, including keeping track of tickets, making sure that teams and cheerleaders know where to go and overseeing a 60-member staff.
"I'm going to miss the tournament because I've become friends with many wonderful people across the state, but I've always been objective, too," Brown says while sitting just a few feet behind the baseline. "I never got into playing golf or fishing when I retired. I was always interested in helping high school athletics in any way I could."
Fairmont Heights football coach Ralph Paden, who worked under Brown at the tournament every year, says, "In my 30 years of being involved in high school sports, he's the finest guy I've ever met. . . . Chuck made differences in people's lives that don't even know it."
2:04 p.m. -- The Walkersville student section, known as the "Blue and Gold Crew," revels before and during the team's soon-to-be 40-32 victory and nearly drowns out a more modest group of DuVal supporters. That, and the tension of a state championship game, contributes to the intensity that Clark had told his team about during the morning practice.
"We weren't focused at the start of the game," senior guard Laquita Whitmire says after the loss. "Intensity has got to start at the tip of the ball. We came out like we were going through the motions."
Even Clark could not help but notice that Walkersville's players seemed extremely relaxed before the game. "They looked they were having fun," says the 18-year coach. "It was one of the best fan bases that I've in many years. They were impressive."
4:17 p.m. -- Friendly junior center Sam Young makes the best defensive play of the tournament, sprinting downcourt to block a would-be dunk by Jonathan Pease, Chopticon's 6-foot-6 senior forward. Had Pease scored, Friendly's lead would have been trimmed to six points with 2 minutes 50 seconds left. But Young's block almost bounces into the stands.
"There was no way I was going to get dunked on," Young says later. "That just wasn't going to happen to me in front of 10,000 people."
Coach Gerald Moore calls it "one of the greatest blocks you will ever see in your life. That I promise."
4:26 p.m. -- Friendly's players run onto the court as the buzzer sounds to celebrate the second-ranked Patriots' 66-57 victory. The Patriots (25-1) won a school-best 25 games and their second championship in six years.
6 p.m. -- DuVal's players arrive at ESPN Zone in the District to celebrate their season. Clark, who decided not to attend, said, "I thought they needed to be together and be with themselves."
7:42 p.m. -- West Otis III, who played for Central but transferred to Suitland last fall, sits in the front row along the baseline at Comcast Center. He congratulates former teammates as they leave the court after Central's 56-52 loss to J.M. Bennett in the 2A final.
"I'm just glad that Central made it this far," Otis says, "and I wanted to be here to see them win it."
9:42 p.m. -- No one cared about Kristen Boone's ankle anymore, especially best friends Markeya Watson and Kemena Brooks. They mob their friend at half court of UMBC's RAC Arena after Gwynn Park's 46-39 3A championship victory over Milford Mill, tackling her to the ground and celebrating their first championship together.
Watson is the lone returnee from the Yellow Jackets' 3A champion squad last year, but winning it with her friends and AAU teammates makes it even more special.
"I won it with my best friends," Watson says. "I don't know why they transferred, but I knew we wanted to be together someday. We never knew we would be playing together in high school. We knew we would play together someday, but we didn't know it would be at Gwynn Park. It means a lot."
9:52 p.m. -- Oxon Hill puts the finishing touches on a 50-40 victory over Magruder, adding another state championship to the one in 2000. "This is what we worked for all season, and when the game was over, we all realized that finally, we're the champs," says senior point guard Chris Pugh.
Moments later, Georgetown forward Michael Sweetney, former All-Met Player of the Year, hugs Oxon Hill Coach Billy Lanier. Sweetney played on the 2000 team, and Lanier invited him and five other members of that squad to pose for a picture with current players.
"To me, that's like taking a family picture because everyone who played at Oxon Hill is part of one, big family," Sweetney says. "I'm just glad I was here to see Coach Lanier and this year's team win another one and add to Oxon Hill's tradition."
9:58 p.m. -- Gwynn Park Coach Marvin Vann's suit jacket is drenched in water, but he's not angry, not after the game he has just seen or the Yellow Jackets' season.
It was almost too perfect. Gwynn Park had to replace seven seniors from a state championship team but still repeated. Markeya Watson, the lone returning starter, and transfers Kristen Boone (Elizabeth Seton), Kemena Brooks (Bishop McNamara) and Geri Crutchfield (Surrattsville) helped fill holes.
The Yellow Jackets (25-1) lost only once this season, closing with 19 consecutive victories.