The first time Edgewood High played Aberdeen, the Rams escaped with a two-point victory on Alfred McAllister's buzzer-beating basket.
Last night, Edgewood topped that, dodging two bullets to pull out a 54-50 overtime victory over the visiting Eagles to take clear command of the Harford County championship race.
With three league games left, Edgewood (12-4, 7-1) now has two fewer losses than anyone in the county and would have to collapse completely.
"We showed a lot of character. Everybody stepped up when we needed it. This was a character type of win," said Rams coach Bob Slagle.
The Rams were really on the ropes in regulation with the score tied at 44 and Aberdeen's Toby Jordan at the foul line for two shotswith 3.1 seconds left.
But both of Jordan's attempts hit the back iron and bounced off, forcing the overtime.
Aberdeen (11-5, 6-3) twice took the lead in the extra period, the last time when Jordan scored on a put-back to make it 50-49 with 1:08 left.
But Dwayne Winder and McAllister each sank two free throws in the final 30 seconds to give Edgewood a 53-50 edge.
The Eagles had 7.9 seconds to try to tie it and actually got a decent shot after a length-of-the-court pass that was partially deflected to Jordan in the corner. But the shot bounced off the rim and Edgewood rebounded to set up Rodney Briscoe for a final free throw.
"That [going full length] wasn't exactly what we were trying to do,"said Aberdeen coach Ron Petrey. "The ball went to our second option, but we did get the shot if it was a little farther down in the corner than we would have wanted."
This was a tough, nose-to-nose defensive struggle that was marked by a 12-point second quarter marred by 21 turnovers.
"When these two teams go at each other, it's always this kind of game," said Slagle. "It appears to be very sloppy, but there's a lot of defensive denial going on."
"These games always seem to be toe to toe and in your face," said Petrey. "Our defense put us in a position to win. That's all you can ask. But you have to make the free throws."
McAllister scored 21 points to pace Edgewood, which also received 16 points and 13 rebounds from junior center Eric Briggs.
Three Eagles reached double figures, Jordan leading with 15 points.