COLLEGE PARK — Patterson Mill's first trip to the boys basketball state tournament ended with a 56-34 semifinal-round loss to Oakdale on Friday.
The game started with an acrobatic Huskies bucket, as Malik Bonds tossed a pass to a leaping C.J. Keyser, who completed the alley-oop with a dunk.
Oakdale, however, grabbed the lead back in short order, and by the conclusion of the third quarter, the 2A West champs were leading Patterson Mill, 11-8.
The Huskies came out firing in the second quarter, with Keyser starting a seven-point Patterson Mill run with a jump shot. Bryce Butler put Patterson Mill in front, 13-11, with a 3-pointer, and Keyser followed with another field goal to extend his team's lead to 15-11.
That was as big a lead the Huskies would obtain.
With the ball back in Patterson Mill's possession, and the Huskies still up by four, Bonds was called for a technical foul. Oakdale responded with four straight points to tie the game. Then, following a pair of three throws from Keyser that briefly put Patterson Mill back in front, 17-15, the Bears' Clay Conner made a shot while being fouled, and converted a free throw to put his team in front for good.
The Bears outscored the Huskies 9-2 over the balance of the second quarter, and by halftime the Huskies were looking at a 27-19 deficit.
"That technical foul was definitely huge," Patterson Mill coach Jeroud Clark said. "That was a turning point for them. It wasn't exactly where the game was lost, though. There were a lot of points where they just out-executed us."
The Huskies made it a two-possession game early in the third quarter, as Keyser and Bonds followed an opening field goal from Conner with back-to-back two-point buckets, making the score 30-24. The Bears once again had an answer, reeling off 12 straight points to run up a 42-24 lead.
"They were running a lot, and we weren't getting back on defense quickly enough on some plays," Keyser said. "They beat us on a couple of back door [plays], too."
At the conclusion of the third quarter, Oakdale was holding a 46-28 advantage.
The two teams would go nearly two minutes without scoring at the beginning of the fourth quarter before DaJuan Madden hit a pair of free throws for Patterson Mill.
Oakdale followed with a six-point run, and added four more tallies before the final buzzer sounded. The Huskies would net just four more points, the last two of which came from Keyser, who finished the contest with a team-best 19 points.
Keyser was familiar with a few of Oakdale's better players, as he competes on an Amateur Athletic Union team with Conner and Zach Thomas.
"C.J. is a big-time player, a big game player," said Thomas, who finished with 29 points. "We knew he would come out hitting, and that we would have to try and limit him. It was a lot of fun being able to play against him tonight. It just made everything that much better, having that kind of competition."
Keyser also led the Huskies in rebounds with seven, and blocks with four.
Butler registered five points, while Bonds had four points and two steals. Rahmon Felder had four points and four rebounds for Patterson Mill.
The Huskies, who won their first regional crown last Saturday with a thrilling, 60-59 victory over Wicomico in the Class 2A East final, are banking on Friday's experience to lead them back next season.
"You can't buy that kind of experience," Clark said. "This is a very young team, and we have a lot of guys coming back next season. Except next year, we want to be playing on Saturday night."