COLLEGE PARK — At this time last year, Patterson junior Aquille Carr was fighting back tears as the Clippers fell a couple points short of bringing home the East Baltimore school’s first state championship.
Then, he vowed to do whatever it would take to help his team return to Comcast Center and leave with a win.
That time came Saturday afternoon, when the Clippers earned another opportunity to play for a state title in the Class 3A championship against Thomas Stone. Carr dodged foul trouble throughout the game to finish with 28 points, senior guard Devin Hebron scored all 23 of his points in a dramatic second half, and the No. 3 Clippers pulled out a hard-fought 86-75 win over the Cougars from Charles County.
Senior forward Shakir Brown added 18 points and 10 rebounds and senior center Leonard Livingston played big inside with eight points and 11 blocked shots as the Clippers answered the numerous challenges Thomas Stone presented.
The Clippers completed their season with a 21-7 mark and, more importantly, accomplished their biggest goal — making school history. Afterward, Carr, last year’s All-Metro Player of the Year, returned to the post-game press conference with a smile on his face and a basketball net around his neck.
“I think I sat right here in the same chair when I cried here last year. So it feels great to know I don’t have to cry now,” he said. “I’m speechless. It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know we worked hard, we deserved it. Guys on our team didn’t come all this way to lose. They came to win a state championship and make school history.”
It didn’t come easily.
After jumping out to a 22-11 lead late in the first quarter, the Clippers watched the Cougars settle in and put up 29 points in the second quarter while Carr was picking up his third foul. The offensive splurge gave Thomas Stone (25-2) a 43-34 advantage at the half.
In response, the Clippers turned to Hebron, who made the third quarter his very own. He finished the quarter with 17 points — converting a three-point play early, knocking down a 3-pointer later and hitting everything in between. Fittingly, his driving layup in the closing seconds provided the Clippers with a 61-60 lead going into the fourth quarter.
But Patterson still had plenty of work ahead, and after Carr picked up his fourth foul just nine seconds into the final period, Patterson coach Harry Martin quickly removed him from the game.
After the Cougars quickly went up 64-61, Martin sent Carr back in with 7:01 to play.
“They went on a [four-point run] and at that point, I didn’t want it to get away from us,” Martin said. “[Carr] has played with foul trouble before. He shouldn’t have committed that fourth foul – he shouldn't even have challenged the shot, so I got on him for that. But with your top players, you have to give them some rope, some discretion on their own and to his credit, he didn’t pick up the [last] foul, he just kept in front of his guy and played some great defense the rest of the game.”
With Carr back in the game, the Clippers scored the next seven points, as Brown converted inside, Hebron hit a 3-pointer and Carr grabbed a rebound at one end and finished off a layup at the other for a 68-64 lead with 4:56 to play. Patterson then methodically pulled away, securing victory at the foul line.
“We are part of school history now and we’re going to remember this,” Carr said. “When we graduate, we’re going to remember we won a state championship at Patterson High.”
Class 3A final(at Comcast Center)
No. 3 Patterson 86, Thomas Stone 75
P – Brown 18, Carr 28, Livingston 8, Lee-Fowlkes 6, Manns 2, Hebron 23, Oliver 1. Totals: 29 21-28 86.
TS – Briscoe 15, Chisley 6, Aderomkola 5, Mbakwe 18, Elliott 14 , Stewart 10, Mainor 7. Totals: 28 20-29 75.
Half: TS, 43-34.