For the past two years, the Patterson boys basketball team has become one of the finest in the area in large part due to an explosive offense that few opponents can keep up with.
In Tuesday's home showdown against newly-appointed No. 1 Lake Clifton, the No. 7 Clippers also showed they could buckle down and play defense when it was needed the most.
Limiting the Lakers to just one field goal in the final six minutes, the Clippers were able to scrape up just enough offense to come away with a 56-52 win.
Junior guard Aquille Carr scored 22 points to lead Patterson, which improved to 12-6 overall and 6-2 in Baltimore City's Division I. Lake Clifton, which came into the game winners of nine straight to jump to No. 1 this week, fall to 16-3 overall and 6-2 in league play.
After the Clippers lost a tough 87-86 double-overtime game against Poly last week, Carr said there was no way his team would end up on the losing side of another tightly-contested game.
"We just came together as a team and knew we were going to pull it out. We showed everybody that we could win playing together," he said. "We played good defense this game – they were only getting one and done and then we were running."
After seeing their 45-40 lead going into the fourth quarter turn into a 46-45 deficit with 6:33 to play, the Clippers got baskets from Kwentyn Brooks, Carr and Shakir Brown, while holding down the Lakers with an active zone defense to take a 53-46 lead with 3:01 to play.
The Lakers, who got a team-high 18 points from senior guard Aaron Parks, would pull within 53-52 with 59 seconds left on two free throws from guard James Boone. But after junior Myrek Lee-Fowlkes hit two free throws with 31 seconds left to give the Clippers a 55-52 lead, the Clippers defense held its ground. Boone would have two chances at a tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds and Patterson senior center Leonard Livingston also had a big block underneath to help secure the win.
"We've mostly played man defense all year, so we kind of wanted to show them a different look tonight," Patterson coach Harry Martin said. "Down the stretch, I think we made some smart plays and executed to get the win. [Herman "Tree" Harried] is a tough coach, his kids battle hard all the time and we commend them for their effort – it was a great battle."
The Lakers weren't hitting from the perimeter early on, falling behind 26-16 with five minutes left in the first half. But they began to assert themselves by going strong to the basket and when senior center Rodney Hawkins dunked a miss with two seconds left before the half, the visitors closed with a 17-5 run for a 33-31 halftime lead.
Midway through the third quarter, a four-point play from Lee-Fowlkes followed by a 3-pointer by Carr helped Patterson claim the 45-40 lead going into the fourth.
In winning nine straight, the Lakers have relied on tough zone defense of their own with efficient play on offense. Harried said the latter just wasn't there on Tuesday.
"We didn't execute like we should have, didn't make the plays that we've been used to," Harried said. "Making shots comes with execution and we didn't execute to get the shots we normally do."