For the past three weeks, Gerald Moore has been telling his players, and anyone else who cared to listen, that the road to the Class 4A state championships runs through Gambrills.
Last night, No. 6 Arundel helped Moore keep his word by defeating visiting and fourth-seeded Calvert, 83-77, in overtime.
The victory, Arundel's 10th straight, advances the top-seeded Wildcats into tomorrow night's 4A East Region championship game where they will play host to Northern-Calvert, a 64-62 winner over Annapolis.
If Arundel (20-3) can get past Northern tomorrow night, it will be the Wildcats' first region championship in boys basketball since 1975.
"We made some mistakes tonight that maybe a better team could have capitalized on, but we won and that's the important thing," said Moore. "We have one goal in mind and that's to get up there on those championship banners with all those other teams."
Bakari Ward did all he could to keep the Wildcats' championship hopes alive. The 5-foot-9 senior guard was 12 of 15 from the foul line and scored 30 points, seven of which came in overtime.
Marquise Farmer, who helped lead Glen Burnie to Cole Field House last season, got into foul trouble early but still managed to finish with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Kevin Higgins and Mitchell Martin each added 14 points for the Wildcats, with six of Martin's points coming in the opening minutes of overtime.
"I'm a role player and I wanted to step up because I'm not ready to go home yet," said Martin, a 6-2 senior forward. "I want to win everything before I go."
Arundel didn't look like it was going to need extended play to eliminate the Cavaliers, but that all changed when sophomore Lionel Sewell banked in a shot with five seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 68.
Higgins launched a desperation 70-footer as the final seconds ticked away, but the shot caromed off the front of the rim, sending the game into overtime.
The Wildcats scored first in overtime on a baseline jumper by Martin and led for good when Martin drove the baseline to put the hosts out front 74-72.
Calvert (16-8), which advanced to the semis by defeating North County, 87-83, trailed 31-26 at the half and was down by nine in the third quarter when Higgins followed up his own three-pointer with 1:26 left in the period.
"I wanted Annapolis," said Moore, who learned who his next opponent would be just moments after the game. "I didn't really want to share the county championship with them. I wanted to take it. We wanted to be champions alone.
"The region finals would have settled all that, but Annapolis didn't make it, so now it's us. Our motivation now is to represent our county."