Experience proved too much for visiting Aberdeen last night as No. 20 Edgewood kept its composure down the stretch and turned away the young Eagles, 53-45, in the Class 2A North region final.
The victory sends the Rams back to Cole Field House for the second straight year.
Senior Chris Finlay led the top-seeded Rams with 14 points, and junior Damion Smothers added 10.
Aberdeen (13-10), committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, had three players with 11 points -- underclassmen Gabe Neal, Tommy Mims and Adam Vesely.
"I think the experience of our kids against his younger kids eventually paid off at the end," said Edgewood coach Bob Slagle. "We weren't as poised as I would have liked down the stretch, but we put the ball in the hands of the right people and we made the shots that counted."
Edgewood (17-8) took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter when senior forward Charlie Burkhardt (eight points) hit a short jumper to put the hosts in front 39-37.
A three-pointer by Finlay with 4:09 left gave Edgewood its biggest lead to that point, 46-40.
Doug Bishop, one of the few seniors on Ron Petry's team, cut the lead back to three with a foul shot and field goal but Smothers quickly returned the lead to five and forced Aberdeen to use a timeout.
Things didn't improve when the Eagles came back on the floor. A turnover under their basket and misguided shots in the waning seconds sealed the outcome as Edgewood fans chanted, "Cole Field House!"
Aberdeen, which had defeated Edgewood twice during the regular season, raced out to an 8-0 lead on two blocks and a steal by Gabe Neal and three straight turnovers by the Rams. Edgewood's first points of the game came on a three-pointer by Finlay, but the bad news was that the basket came with only 2:48 left in the opening quarter.
The Rams slowly chipped away at the deficit in the second quarter and finally passed the visitors on two free throws by Finlay.
Damion Smothers got the crowd into the game when he was fouled while hitting a three-pointer and converted the rare four-point play to help give the hosts a 23-20 halftime lead.
The lead changed six times in the third quarter, but Edgewood held it at the end and led 37-35 heading into the final eight minutes.
Senior guard Mike Baldwin made sure last night's game wouldn't be his last, as he scored nine points for the Rams. Mike Brown, who still has another year, chipped in with eight and junior guard Derrick Tapped added five.
"We missed too many layups, and you can't do that against a good team," said Petry. "We got some of the shots we wanted, they just didn't go down. They hit a couple shots down the stretch and we couldn't, and that was the difference."