COLLEGE PARK — With six minutes left in Friday night's Class 2A state semifinal game, the Lake Clifton boys basketball team finally got what it wanted.
For most of the game, including seven-plus minutes of the second quarter, the No. 4 Lakers challenged No. 12 South Carroll to get out of its zone defense by holding onto the ball. Protecting a seven-point lead at that time in the fourth quarter, the Lakers finally got their wish, and a few moments later they were celebrating a berth in Saturday's championship game with a 46-34 win over the Cavaliers at Comcast Center.
Lake Clifton (23-3) will return to College Park to face Largo from Prince George's County — a 61-44 winner over Easton in the other semifinal — in Saturday's championship game at 6 p.m.
"It's a great opportunity," said James Boone, who led three Lakers in double figures with 13 points. "I've never got to play in a state championship, so I'm just excited."
Leading 26-22 after three quarters, the Lakers got a free throw by Aaron Parks and a basket by Daquan Ross to increase the lead to 29-22 with 6:35 left. They then made 13 of 15 free throws the rest of the way to pull away.
With a 14-11 lead going into the second quarter, Lake Clifton held the ball to try to force South Carroll (21-5) out of its zone defense, and both teams proved stubborn as Ross was allowed to mostly hold the ball out front. After seven-plus minutes of possession, the Lakers swung the ball to the right corner to Boone, whose foot was on the sideline to turn the ball over with 15 seconds left. After both teams had turnovers to give the ball back to the Cavaliers, Gavin McTavish hit a three pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 14 heading into halftime.
"I try to get my young man to understand that we play to win and not impress people, and if the score is 2-1 Lake Clifton — as long as its 2-1 Lake Clifton — that's all we care about," Lakers coach Herman "Tree" Harried said. "[The Cavaliers] were so poised they didn't come out of it and we were poised enough in what we were trying to do and everybody was stubborn."
Cortell Henson and Daquan Ross each finished with 10 points for Lake Clifton.
South Carroll, which captured its second straight Carroll County crown and was making its third state tournament appearance in four years, got a game-high 16 points from McTavish.
"It was a good year," Cavaliers senior captain and point guard Dan Mullen said. "Coming off of last year where we lost a few key guys, some new guys stepped in and we really worked well together, gelled as a team and worked really hard. We made a nice run and it was nice to get here, but unfortunately it didn't go our way."
LC—Parks5 , Greene 8, Boone 13, Ross 10, Henson 10. Totals: 11 17-20 46.
SC—McTavish 16, Mullen 4, Tate 8, Alcid 6. Totals: 12 7-10 34.
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