Having fallen short of reaching the regional final six times in the last 13 years, Dulaney eagerly awaits an opportunity to join the elite at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center for the state semifinals. But to do so, the Lions must resist looking ahead.
Dulaney will play either Blake or Springbrook, of Montgomery County, in the Class 4A North regional final Friday night after edging visiting Perry Hall, 56-55, in a semifinal Wednesday night as senior Jon Sims totaled 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Lions (20-4) had to sweat to get the victory.
They led 56-55 with 22 seconds remaining when Jason Lawson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw.
Perry Hall guard Trent McCallum's three-point attempt was blocked by Stewart German 12 second later. Chris Osuji quickly fouled Isaiah Lamb to give Dulaney another 1-and-1.
Dante Green (11 points) rebounded Lamb's missed free throw with seven seconds remaining, and passed to McCallum, who drove nearly the length of the court, beat two defenders and missed a layup with a second remaining.
McCallum, a senior guard who had a team-high 18 points, slumped to the floor is disbelief and had to be helped up by several fans.
"We get the breakaway right there at the end and it just didn't fall," Perry Hall coach George Panageotou said. "It just wasn't meant to be. He's been our leading scorer all year, and he got to the rim with a clear path. If it falls, the buzzer goes off and it's over."
Perry Hall (16-8) outplayed Dulaney in the first half and led, 32-22, at the break.
The Lions opened the third quarter on a 11-3 run in the first 3:33 to trim the advantage to 37-33. Perry Hall led 42-40 at the end of the period.
Dulaney took its first lead since the opening minutes when Lamb drained a three-pointer with 2:05 left to make it 56-54.
Perry Hall finished its scoring on a Pettis Lawrence free throw with 29 seconds to go.
Then came Dulaney's two missed free throws and Perry Hall's chance for a thrilling victory.
"In my nine years, we have never swept Perry Hall," said Dulaney coach Matt Lochte, whose team also beat Perry Hall by one point on Dec. 11. "You can call it the basketball gods. I am not too superstitious, but we had a little bit of luck on our side tonight. I really believe it."
Lamb added 11 points and Jason Lawson and German had nine each.