The Lake Clifton boys basketball team doesn't have the flashy player who can pour in points. And the No. 10 Lakers often give up size any time they go up against the other top teams in Baltimore City.
To make up for any shortcomings, they work hard in practice, play smart and tenacious team defense and, most importantly, believe in each other.
After falling behind by a point at No. 7 Edmondson in the closing seconds of overtime on Tuesday, Lake Clifton was confident it would find a way to win.
Senior Stephon Brown, a 5-foot-5 guard, made sure, hitting a jumper with nine seconds left in overtime to give the Lakers a grind-it-out, 43-42 win over the host Red Storm.
Lake Clifton, which got a game-high 14 points from junior forward Derrick Green and 12 from Brown, improve to 12-2 overall and 4-1 in Baltimore City's Division 1. Edmondson fell to 10-3 and 3-1 in league play.
"We just stayed together, we never let down, we stuck together through adversity, and we listened to coach [Herman "Tree" Harried] the whole game," Brown said. "We didn't give up on him, and he didn't give up on us, and we fought the whole game."
Lake Clifton mixed up a number of zone defenses to give the bigger Red Storm fits. The home team trailed, 40-35, with 2:55 left in regulation and managed only two points in the fourth quarter when senior Sean Burke (team-high 13 points) hit a jumper and then a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime tied at 40.
Lakers senior guard Elijah Kess hit a free throw with two minutes left in overtime, but Edmondson — holding the ball to take off much of the remaining time — got an inside basket from junior center Joshua Garrett to take a 42-41 lead with 19 seconds left.
Brown then found an open look on the left side and answered with the winning jumper. Lake Clifton had one defensive stop and after Kess missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3.4 seconds left, the Red Storm had one last hurried shot miss the mark.
"I had a lot of confidence when I let it go, my team believed in me, coach believed in me and we got the 'W,'" Brown said. "It feels great. We work so hard in practice, so we had to come and make them pay."
Edmondson had success on offense in the first quarter, taking a 17-12 lead with 2:06 to play. But the Lakers made adjustments on defense and the home team wasn't able to get the same looks inside the rest of the game.
The Lakers had a 28-25 lead at the half, and the teams combined to score only 27 points in the second half. Harried isn't looking for style points.
"Our goal is trying to teach them to win and not impress," he said. "Whatever it takes to win a game, whatever sacrifices you have to make and [we] don't base their performance on scoring. Base it on defense, base it on rebounding, base it on execution — we did that today."
No. 10 Lake Clifton 43, No. 7 Edmondson 42 (OT)
LC – Brown 12, Kess 9, Green 14, Wright 4, Straham 3, Parks 1. Totals: 17 6-18 43.
E – Lassiter 8, Garrett 9, Wattie 4, Burke 13, McClain 8. Totals: 16 8-16 42.
Half: L, 28-25