The 6-foot-3 star picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, and junior big man Max Oppenheim did the same a few minutes later. It left Vikings boys’ basketball Coach Chris Lun in a quandary, and he decided playing without his two leading scorers would not suffice.
The calculated risk paid off, and Whitman emerged with a dramatic 62-61 overtime win against Clarksburg to capture its second Maryland 4A West region title in three years. The Vikings (17-9) will face defending 4A champion Meade in the state semifinals Thursday at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.
To get there, though, they had to overcome a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit, a game-tying shot by Clarksburg (17-9) that forced overtime and the frequent offense-for-defense substitutions of Diboti-Lobe and Oppenheim.
Diboti-Lobe proved up to the challenge, finishing with 29 points and scoring Whitman’s only basket of the extra period. He also spearheaded a charge late in regulation, connecting on consecutive three-point plays to give Whitman the lead with less than one minute to go.
“Thank God I got those and-ones,” Diboti-Lobe said. “Big shots are something I love to hit.”
But senior Andrew Kostecka (20 points) responded, nailing two three-pointers in a nine-second span to temporarily rescue Clarksburg. The second one, with less than eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, was an off-balance shot as he fell to the ground and tied the score at 59.
The Coyotes had a chance to win in the final 30 seconds of overtime but elected to hold the ball for a final shot despite trailing by one point. When they missed, Whitman bounded onto the floor in celebration, well aware of the predicament it had just escaped from.
The beginning of Whitman’s 63-39 win over Clarksburg in the 4A West girls’ basketball championship game at Blair did not go as planned. The Vikings committed turnovers and looked jittery and disjointed.
But then star Abby Meyers drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to close the first quarter, and whatever was holding No. 12 Whitman (22-3) back seemed to vanish. The Vikings are headed to the state semifinals for the second year in a row after pulling away from Clarksburg (18-8) in the second half.
Meyers finished with 28 points, and senior Betsy Knox added 16 points. Whitman will face No. 13 North Point at Towson University on Thursday. North Point beat No. 5 Old Mill, 54-52, in Saturday night’s 4A East final.
“You’re going to have nerves, but as the game progressed, we were able to fit ourselves into the game a little bit and play our style of basketball,” Meyers said.
●ELEANOR ROOSEVELT 70, C.H. FLOWERS 68 (OT): Junior Octavia Wilson had an afternoon to remember as the two-time defending 4A state champions beat the Jaguars in a rescheduled Maryland 4A South region semifinal game in Springdale. She scored a career-high 58 points and pushed Eleanor Roosevelt into a 4A South region final matchup against Parkdale on Monday.