Last season, Howard's girls team used a regional upset of Mount Hebron as a launching pad toward an eventual surprise state championship.
Yesterday at Mount Hebron in the Class 3A East Region first round, the Howard boys team came in hoping to duplicate the girls' accomplishment, starting with an upset of the Vikings.
Despite two losses to Mount Hebron (15-8) and a 9-13 record, the Lions pulled off the improbable and defeated the Vikings in overtime, 77-64, to advance to the region semifinal against host and No. 2 seed Douglass tomorrow at 4 p.m.
The Vikings, one of the county's three premier teams all season, never led. But they produced a rally that almost pulled out the victory in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 47-32 after three quarters, the Vikings rallied to tie at 60-60 at the end of regulation. Todd Petrlik (14 points) led the comeback with nine points, including a three-pointer with 58 seconds left that pulled the Vikings within 60-58. Mount Hebron's Mark Jordan then tied it at 60-60. The Vikings outscored Howard, 5-0, in the final 1:22.
But Howard's hot shooting (29-for-56), full-court, man-for-man defense and then its solid free-throw shooting in the final minute of overtime made the difference.
DaLawn Parrish (26 points) led all scorers and his two free throws with 1:22 left gave Howard a 60-55 lead.
"Our coach has told us all season that if we make it to the playoffs we can win it," said Parrish, who is on his way to Wake Forest next year on a football scholarship. "We lost a lot of close games this season."
Parrish fouled out Mount Hebron's top outside scoring threat, Kurt Jestes, with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter. Parrish also fouled out Tony Giro with 2:10 left.
Howard's Corey Curtis (15 points), headed to Bowie State next season on a football scholarship, fouled out Patrick Ngongba with 1:06 left in overtime and Howard clinging to a 66-64 lead.
His free throw raised Howard's lead to 67-64, and on the missed second shot, Colin Izzard tapped in the rebound and the Lions led 69-64. Curtis added two more free throws for a 71-64 lead with 48 seconds left.
"This is our greatest win in basketball while I've been at Howard," said Curtis. "We usually start slow and finish strong, but we reversed that today until the overtime."
Howard finished up with an 11-0 run on the Vikings.
"They are great athletes who got better and better as basketball players as the season wore on," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said of Howard.
Howard's Mike Green, an All-County soccer player, held Mount Hebron's Kevin Tonkins to one point and one rebound in the first half. Tonkins had averaged 15 points over the past nine games. Tonkins did not play the second half.
"Green's job was to box out Tonkins and he did a great job," Howard coach Kevin Broadus said.
Howard freshman point guard Chris Smith handled Mount Hebron's pressure well, distributed the ball and scored 10 points.