Catonsville coach Art Gamzon couldn't come up with many words to describe last night's Class 3A, Region II final against Aberdeen.
There were three, however, that came to his mind.
Said Gamzon: "Incredible, incredible, incredible."
It was an appropriate response to his team's 11-point fourth-quarter comeback, which led to an 80-77 overtime victory and gave the host Comets their Baltimore County-record third consecutive regional championship. The victory earned the defending state champions a return trip to College Park.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Gamzon. "It was just such an incredible game. Even when we were down by 11, I knew the ballgame wasn't over.
"These kids refused to quit."
After three quarters of non-stop, end-to-end action, the game boiled down to a contest of wills, as forwards James Lewis and Printice McNair of Catonsville and P. J. Smith of Aberdeen engaged in an offensive showdown.
While McNair scored 13 after the third quarter to keep the Comets (19-5) afloat, things got a bit more competitive between Lewis and Smith.
"At halftime, [Smith] came up to me and said, 'It's me and you,' " said Lewis, who scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and overtime. "That's what it came down to."
With the Eagles leading 65-54 with 5:33 left in regulation, Catonsville went on 13-1 run capped by Lewis' driving layup with two minutes left to take a 67-66 lead.
But with Catonsville leading 71-68 and six seconds left, Smith connected on an off-balance 25-footer to force overtime.
But those would be the last of Smith's game-high 35 points. Lewis and McNair each scored four in the overtime to help Catonsville to an 80-77 lead. Smith's three-point attempt then hit the front of the rim with two seconds left to seal the Comets' victory.
"I didn't expect it to be that good a game," said McNair, who scored 32. "We maintained our composure in the fourth quarter and brought it home. It was self-focus."
Lewis, who was 8-for-11 from the field after halftime, echoed his teammate's thoughts.
"I'm very satisfied," said Lewis, who has led his teams to a 68-8 record during his three years on the varsity. "This is the best game I've played all year."
Lewis also had 11 rebounds and five assists.
Senior forward Matt Taylor scored 11 for Catonsville, helping his team come back in the second half.
"I've been struggling on my shot lately, but I knew this would be my last chance to step up," said Taylor. "This just feels great."
For Aberdeen (18-6), which lost to Catonsville in last year's regional final, it was a case of utter frustration.
"What you saw was two great basketball players [Lewis and Smith] going head to head," said Aberdeen coach Ron Petrey.
"The fans got their money's worth."