Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Kevin Holston began to describe the seconds leading into the wild conclusion of Thursday night’s Maryland 4A state semifinals and stopped short as he came to the point in the story when DuVal’s Edward Polite swooped in to block his shot in the waning moments of overtime.
“I thought it was over then,” Holston said.
A few seats to his right sat senior Yannick Alexis with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, well aware his reaction to the play ultimately propelled No. 18 B-CC to a dramatic 58-57 victory over No. 20 DuVal in College Park. Alexis collected the loose ball off Polite’s block and quickly banked in a short jumper just before the final buzzer sounded for the game-winning basket.
The Barons, who also needed overtime to upset top-seeded Magruder in the Maryland 4A West regional final Monday, advanced to face Meade in the 4A state final Saturday night in College Park.
“I’m at a loss for words. I’m in shock right now. I can’t believe this,” Holston said. “I saw it go to Yannick and he just saved my life. He saved our team’s life.”
Alexis claimed to be “calm the whole time,” but the captivating finish was the last in a series of tension-filled moments, beginning at the end of regulation when B-CC (20-5) overcame a six-point deficit over the final five minutes.
Holston (21 points) tied the game twice in the fourth quarter only to watch DuVal (17-9) take the lead again. Junior Ivan Torres (17 points) then evened the score at 50 off a Tigers turnover with 32 seconds to go, delighting the large contingent of B-CC fans that filled an entire side of Xfinity Center on Thursday.
Polite (15 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) tried to take over down the stretch, holding the ball for the last shot and drawing a foul at the rim with 2.6 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter. But he missed both free throws.
The Radford recruit created a similar situation in overtime, fouled on a drive to the basket with DuVal trailing by one and just 12.3 seconds remaining. This time, Polite knocked down both free throws, giving the Tigers a 57-56 advantage before swatting what looked to be B-CC’s last-ditch effort.
Only Alexis had another ending in mind.
“I just knew when Kevin was driving,” he said, “good things would happen.”
After Springbrook cut its deficit to 28-25 with under three minutes remaining before halftime, Meade (25-2) put together a remarkable 25-2 run over the next eight minutes of action to turn the contest into a rout. The Mustangs outscored Springbrook, 31-9, in the third quarter alone.
“We knew we were going to get on a run, but we didn’t know it was going to be that kind of run,” Meade junior Tristan Easton said. “We executed everything to perfection as far as I’m concerned.”
Easton and senior Bruce Spruell were at the center of the action, causing havoc in Meade’s pressure defense and finishing with 23 and 15 points, respectively, to spearhead a multifaceted offensive attack.
Senior Aaron Burton had 12 points to lead Springbrook (22-4), which had won its three previous postseason games this year by an average margin of 25 points. Meade will enter Saturday’s 4A state final with 24 wins in its past 25 games.