The Washington boys' basketball team was favored going into this year's U.S. Youth Games tournament. It had won the last two titles and had not lost since 1984. The players knew they were on the team to beat.

But Baltimore ruined those great expectations, defeating Washington twice. Baltimore gained the title at Gallaudet Field House after beating Washington, 56-53, yesterday, and, 60-42, on Friday.

"This is just, just happy," said Baltimore's Evers Burns, 15. "We've been working on this since April."

After Friday's loss, Washington battled back to the finals of the double-elimination tournament with a 65-63 victory over Atlanta early today in the final of the losers bracket.

That advanced Washington to the final round, where it had to beat Baltimore twice to win the title.

"I was kind of nervous before the game, but when we came, I saw they weren't as pumped as we were," said Burns. "Yeah, they were tired. They weren't playing as hard as they can."

"I think later in the game Washington's legs were getting tired," added Terrance Alexander, 14. "They shoot a lot of outside shots, but later they couldn't leap, and they were shooting the ball shorter."

Washington led with 3:52 left in the third quarter, but was outscored, 10-3, the rest of the period. Baltimore went on to lead by 10 points during the final quarter. Alexander said Baltimore was sluggish early on partially because of Friday's game.

"When you beat them that bad, it kind of goes to your head," he said. "It took us two quarters to heat up."

Between games, Washington players sounded optimistic. "We feel like we're going to come back and beat Baltimore twice this evening," Deveron Ashe said.

Said Robert Cunningham: "We know most of them can't shoot from the outside, so we're going to have to close the inside and make them shoot jumpers."

Washington fared better against Atlanta, despite letting a four-point lead slip away in the final minutes. With a minute remaining, Atlanta tied the game, 61-61, and it was knotted at 63 with 18 seconds left. Washington missed several chances to go ahead with free throws, but David Credle's bank shot in the final seconds gained the victory.

Washington Coach Bob Gorham said the close game, with his team's reputation on the line, might have explained the free-throw problems. "I think the pressure got to them," he said.

In other events, Washington racked up third-place finishes in both boys and girls track and field. The girls totaled 98 points, finishing behind New York (116) and Birmingham (131). The boys (104) were edged by Birmingham (105) and New York (107).

Among Washington's winners were Anthony Freeman (14- to 15-year-old boys 100 meter dash, 11.4 seconds), William Perry (12-13 boys 200 meters, 52.39), Elgin Gordon (14-15 boys 200 meters, 50.19) and Tanya Hughes (14-15 girls high jump, 5 feet 9 inches).

Washington was also involved in one of the day's more interesting events, the 14- to 15-year-old boys 800-meter sprint medley. Three teams were disqualified -- including Washington -- for a pushing violation. New York, not among the violators, took the gold in 1:36.19.

One member of the New York relay team, Stephen Adegbite, celebrated by slamming his fist onto the track, jumping around and inviting teammates and Birmingham rivals to "party tonight."

Tennis and volleyball were wrapped up at Catholic University. In tennis, Washington's Claude Tellis and Khari Cook beat Birmingham's Murray Sudaram and Brian Barnes in the boys' 13-under doubles, 5-2, with an injury default. Sudaram's injury also gave Washington a mixed doubles win in the 13-under category.