Glen Burnie junior guard Mitch Guest had his quietest game in two weeks in what proved to be the Gophers' biggest victory in nearly a decade.
After totaling nearly half of Glen Burnie's points the past three games, Guest shook off tight defensive coverage and found senior forward Tony Sherrod, who scored a season-high 23 points, as the Gophers upset previously undefeated No. 3 Thomas Johnson, 70-69, in the Maryland 4A East final on the Patriots' home court.
The Gophers (19-5), in the state tournament for the first time since 1994 and fourth time in school history, will face the winner of today's 4A West final between Magruder and Springbrook Thursday at 7 p.m. at Comcast Center.
Guest had scored at least 30 points in each of Glen Burnie's past three games, and Thomas Johnson was prepared for him to look for a fourth.
"Every time I dribbled, two defenders would come after me," Guest said. "So I had to find an open man."
Often times, usually off dribble penetration, that man was Sherrod.
"When [teams focus on Guest] it's time for the rest of us to kick it into gear," said Sherrod, who also had a team-high 10 rebounds. "Nobody believed we could do this."
That was because the Patriots (23-1) entered undefeated and their home crowd was pumped to send off Tom Dickman, the winningest public school coach in state history, who was coaching his final home game after amassing 593 victories in 29 seasons. It turned out to be Dickman's last high school game; he will start the men's program at Division III Hood College in the fall.
"My thought right now is that we had a team that was competitive and I thought we could get back to the state tournament," Dickman said. "In a little bit, I'll think about this being my last game here."
Clippers Exorcise Raiders
Oxon Hill senior guard Chris Pugh paraded the 4A South Region tournament championship plaque around his team's locker room so each one of his teammates could touch it following the Clippers' 53-40 victory over reigning champion Eleanor Roosevelt in the region final at Run 'n' Shoot in District Heights.
"That's because everyone had a hand in us winning it," said Pugh. "We've waited a long time for this."
After losing to Roosevelt (10-15) in each of previous two region finals despite entering as the top-seed, No. 4 Oxon Hill (20-3) earned its first region crown and berth in Friday's state tournament since winning its lone championship in 2000.
Oxon Hill will play in the state semifinals Thursday at 9 p.m. at Comcast Center against Lake Clifton (Baltimore), which edged Mervo, 46-45, in the 4A North Region final last night in Baltimore.
Last night's meeting before a standing-room only crowd of around 800 marked the fifth straight season Oxon Hill and Roosevelt played in the region final, with the Clippers prevailing in 1999, 2000 and this season.
Oxon Hill combined a scoring attack that had four players score at least eight points -- paced by junior forward Frank Gerald's game-high 15 -- and a defense that held the Raiders to seven field goals in the second half.
Oxon Hill senior forward Demario Anderson finished with 11 points, and Pugh and senior guard Rashaud Nixon added 10 and eight points, respectively. In the decisive third quarter, Oxon Hill outscored the Raiders 15-2, giving the Clippers a 39-25 lead entering the final quarter.