For the first time since the inception of the Central Maryland Basketball Tournament, the host Atholton Raiders boys team will play for the championship thanks to a 79-67 semifinal victory over Sherwood (4-3) of Montgomery County last night.
Atholton (5-1) will play Magruder (7-0) in the championship game today at 4 p.m.
Atholton's girls team also will play for the tournament title, facing Middletown at 2 p.m., after the Raiders' 57-46 semifinal victory over Quince Orchard.
"It's unusual for a host school to have not played in its own tournament championship, but the past competition has been so good," Atholton boys coach Jim Albert said.
The Raiders advanced to the title thanks to strong free-throw shooting (11 of 13 in the fourth quarter) and the spark sophomore guard Tyrone Allmond provided off the bench, scoring 21 points, 17 in the second half.
"With Tony Stewart in foul trouble early and eventually fouling out, we needed point production and [D. J.] Chiles and Allmond gave it to us tonight," Albert said.
Chiles' 12 first-quarter points pushed the Raiders to a 17-16 lead after one and a 34-31 advantage at the half. However, Atholton could not stop Sherwood senior guard Carlos Hill as the Division I prospect kept the Warriors close with 25 points and six assists.
"You need to hit free throws and layups to win and fortunately we hit our free throws tonight," said Albert of his Raiders' 21-of-26 performance from the line.
Atholton girls coach Paul Eckert watched his Raiders (4-2) exploit their superior quickness against Quince Orchard (1-6) to rush to a 17-10 first-quarter lead.
However, Atholton's small lineup could not keep Cougar center Liz Kristina off the offensive boards as Quince Orchard pulled within 30-27 behind her 11 second-quarter points.
Atholton advanced to its third straight Central Maryland Tournament championship game by getting a lift from Lea Nichols (13 points) and Stephanie Van Deusen (15 points) in the second half. When Quince Orchard pulled to 32-31 early in the third quarter, Van Deusen ignited a 14-4 run with eight points.
"We got a little tired at the end of the second quarter because we had only one practice all week and the man-to-man defense we played wore us down," Van Deusen said. "But halftime allowed us to catch our breath and regroup."
In the other boys semifinal, Magruder cruised to an 88-66 victory over Wilde Lake (0-5), eclipsing Atholton's tournament-record for total points in a game by three. Magruder used its superior quickness to produce two important scoring runs.
After Wilde Lake senior center Sule Carpenter (13 points) helped spurt the Wildecats to a 10-5 lead in the first quarter, Magruder went on a 12-2 run to take the lead for good.
Behind the scoring of senior forward Alex McCrimmon (21 points) and senior guard Shawn Sabaii (23 points), Magruder opened up a 50-34 halftime lead with a 16-4 outburst in the second quarter.
Despite a team-high 20 points from senior forward Seth Willingham, Wilde Lake could not recover from 15 first-half turnovers or the Colonels' free-throw scoring advantage (23-11).
In the girls opening game, Middletown (6-0) defeated two-time defending tournament champion Damascus (5-2), 49-33.
TC Middletown was paced by senior shooting guard Kara Reed's 14 points and senior point guard Kristen Hofer's 11 points. Damascus junior guard Christine Trunnell led the Swarmin' Hornets with eight points.
In today's consolation games, Damascus will meet Quince Orchard at 10 a.m. and Sherwood will face Wilde Lake at noon.