Eleanor Roosevelt senior guard Isaiah Gross hit the hardwood with a thud, and a whistle followed. With 15.8 seconds left in a Maryland 4A state semifinal game, Gross shook off the fall after drawing a key foul behind the three-point line and headed to the free throw line with his team trailing by a point.
With a berth in the state title game on the line, Gross knocked down all three free throws — shaking his fist in excitement after scoring the second one — to propel No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt to a 63-61 win over Baltimore County’s Dulaney on Thursday night at Xfinity Center in College Park.
The fifth-ranked Raiders (24-3) advanced to the Maryland 4A state title game, aiming to win the fourth state championship in program history. Eleanor Roosevelt won the title in 2002, 2013 and 2016.
“We knew it would be a battle, and I’m really proud of our guys,” Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell said. “It wasn’t looking good there for a couple minutes, and they were just tough and found a way to get it done.”
Gross led his team in scoring with 16 points, including 11 on free throws.
His final three points capped a 9-1 run after Dulaney, seeking its first state title appearance, had taken a 60-54 lead with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter. Roosevelt led by 15 points in the second quarter.
At halftime, the lead was 10, with Raiders senior Cameron Brown, a William & Mary signee, scoring a team-high 13 points before the break. Brown finished with 15 points.
Behind the senior leadership of Brown, Gross and guard Kyle Rose, the Raiders didn’t panic when the Lions took their first lead of the game at 55-54 with 3:45 remaining. Instead, the Raiders responded.
“We are used to playing in competitive games,” O’Connell said. “I just don’t know other counties can say that they got the competition we got on a daily basis.”
The Raiders will face Broadneck in the Maryland 4A state title game Saturday at Xfinity Center.
“It would mean everything to win one for this program and together as a group because we’ve been through a lot, so it would be the best feeling in the world, for real,” Brown said.