Joppatowne bested by Wicomico in 2A East boys basketball final

The Joppatowne Mariners boys basketball came to a halt Friday night with a 60-40 home-court loss to the Wicomico Indians in the Class 2A East regional championship game. They were the Harford County's last boys basketball team left standing in the state playoffs.

After a slow start in the opening quarter, when both teams went silent for the first two minutes, Joppatowne's Markell Huggins opened the scoring with a two-point bucket. It was their only lead of the night, as the Indians quickly went ahead, 7-2, and did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.

Down by 10 points in the final minute of the first quarter, the Mariners ended with a four-point run that closed the gap to 14-8.

Huggins opened the second quarter with a three-pointer that brought Joppatowne within three points, and he was followed by Jermaine Head Jr., who knocked down one foul shot to make the score, 14-12. That was as close as the Mariners got, as Wicomico outscored Joppatowne 20-6 over the remainder of the second quarter to take a 34-18 lead at halftime.

Wicomico opened the second half with a two-point field goal that extended its lead to 18, but Joppatowne, spurred by back-to-back three-pointers from Khalil Gore, was able to chop its deficit to 36-29 with an 11-point run. By the end of the quarter, the Indians had pulled back ahead, 43-34.

Wicomico put the game away at the beginning of the fourth quarter, scoring 11 unanswered points to go ahead, 54-34. With the last two tallies of the Indians' 11-point run, which came on a break-away slam dunk, a Wicomico fan stormed onto the court to celebrate with the team. Several Harford County sheriff's deputies escorted the offending fan off the court and ejected him from the school. Wicomico was called for a technical foul in the incident, but the Mariners failed to convert either of their two free throws, leaving the Indians with a 20-point advantage.

The two teams each scored six points in the remaining time, bringing the final tally to 60-40.

Huggins led the Mariners' offense in three categories, ending the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Gore wrapped up with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while Head Jr. had five points and a team-best five assists. Gary Blackston scored three points in the loss, while teammates Keith Alexander and Tyler McDougal both had two points.

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