With hopes of repeating as state 3A champions, Randallstown approached yesterday's North region quarterfinal game with Woodlawn a little differently.
The Rams earlier failed to win their second straight Baltimore County championship because the Warriors claimed the title, but wanted to prove that they are the best team in Baltimore County.
The No. 12 Rams may have done that with a 72-65 victory over the visiting Warriors yesterday, but Woodlawn also proved it was deserving of the county championship.
Troy Lewis and Lamont Clark led Randallstown (16-4) with 18 points apiece and Larry Montgomery added 17 points and 10 steals. Babatunde Bandale scored 16 points for Woodlawn (13-5) and Aaron Ragsdale added 16.
The Rams, who last year became only the second team from Baltimore County since 1960 to win a state championship, will play at Parkville tomorrow in the semifinals.
After building an 18-point lead early in the second half, Randallstown spent the remainder of the game fighting off charges by the Warriors, who were blown out by the Rams in two regular-season meetings.
Woodlawn was within 65-60 with 2:31 remaining on a three-pointer by Ragsdale. Jerry Venable hit a layup for Randallstown, pushing the lead back to seven.
The Warriors got within five at 70-65 with 24 seconds left, but couldn't come up with the ball after a scramble, and Clark was left alone for a dunk.
"They gave us a tough game and deserve a lot of credit," said Lewis, who had five assists. "This was a big game that proves that we are the real county champions, and, hopefully, soon to be state champs."
Considering how its season started, Woodlawn had a remarkable finish. In the opening month, Daniel Hewins resigned as coach and was replaced by Eric King, who revamped the Warriors and they won the county title, defeating Catonsville last week.
"We lost the first half," said King. "We won the second half, but I told the guys we have to be ready when the ball goes up. If we had been ready when the ball went up, it could had been a different story."
But as in its first two meetings with Randallstown, the Warriors had problems with the Rams' press, turning the ball over 14 times. Randallstown led by as many 22 points before settling for a 41-28 margin at halftime.
Baskets by Brian Broden, Montgomery and Clark to start the second half extended the Rams' lead to 47-28 with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter.