COLLEGE PARK — In the opening minutes of Thursday’s Class 3A state semifinal, there were some clear signs that the No. 3 Patterson boys basketball simply had too much for its Frederick County opponent Tuscarora to handle.
The Clippers showed their quickness by creating steals, a blocked shot warned how tough it would be to get points inside and, while all the baskets didn’t fall freely at the offensive end early, they seemed to be able to get the shots they wanted.
Shortly after junior guard Aquille Carr scored his first points — a driving layup about midway through the first quarter — Patterson’s offense started to match its defense, and the Clippers went on to take a comfortable 70-46 win over Tuscarora at Comcast Center.
Carr, last year’s All-Metro Player of the Year, scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, and the Clippers will get another chance at bringing the East Baltimore school its first state championship.
Patterson (20-7) will return to Comcast on Saturday to face Thomas Stone — a 69-61 winner over Centennial in Thursday’s other semifinal — in the championship game set for 3 p.m. Last season, the Clippers competed in Class 4A and reached the title game only to fall to champion North Point, 76-72. It left a mark on the Clippers, and they hope to erase it with a win on Saturday.
“The feeling last year was losing was hurtful ... so I made it our business that we have to win a state championship this year,” Carr said. “You got to play hard, because you don’t want to come up short. We know how it feels to be on the losing end, and now we want to see how it feels to win it.”
Senior forward Nyme Manns, who won a state championship at Digital Harbor last season, finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Devin Hebron scored 11 as the Clippers forced 29 turnovers and limited the Titans (20-6) to 30 percent shooting from the field.
Leading 8-7 midway through the first quarter, the Clippers methodically began to pull away with 3-pointers from Carr, freshman guard Dereck Oliver and junior guard Myrek Lee-Fowlkes building a 19-9 lead with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. After taking a 32-21 lead into halftime, Patterson went on a 14-3 run to start the third quarter with Carr accounting for six of the points.
“Watching [Tuscarora] on film against Linganore in the region championship game, we thought we could get after them a little bit with the press,” Patterson coach Harry Martin said. “I thought we were a lot more athletic than they were, and I think our overall conditioning wears down teams late in games.”
The Clippers now turn their attention toward a state title, facing a Thomas Stone team that has a 25-1 mark.
“It feels good,” Lee-Fowlkes said “Last year we were disappointed. ... It hurt real bad, so we just kept working and kept our spirits up to get right back here. Other than that, there’s nothing else on my mind. We only have two goals here — get all our seniors to college and win a state championship.”
P—Brown 6, Hebron 11, Manns 11, Carr 24, Oliver 6, Lee-Fowlkes 8, Brooks 2. Totals: 25 15-26 70.
T—Ingram 3, Washington 6, McDonald 11, Ofori 7, C. Abernathy 2, White 10, Magee 2, Woodward 2, K. Abernathy 3. Totals: 18 9-15 46.
Half: P, 32-21