Woodlawn coach Bobby Richardson hoped a tough nonleague December schedule would prepare his team for the postseason.
The Warriors reaped some of the benefits of that early hard work yesterday, rallying past host and No. 13 Catonsville, 46-45, for the Baltimore County championship.
In capturing its second county title in three seasons, Woodlawn (15-8) ended the Comets' 15-game winning streak, avenging a 65-54 loss at Catonsville four days ago.
The Warriors, who played Southern-Baltimore and Prince George's County powers Crossland and Suitland in December, won for the 12th time in 14 games after a 3-6 start.
The Comets (18-2) went 15-0 in the Hoopster Division, including victories over the county's big three -- Milford Mill, Randallstown and Woodlawn. But they were unable to put away the Warriors, who scored the game's final four points.
Junior Ishmael Robinson led Woodlawn with 13 points, and senior point guard Terrick Allen had nine, including two free throws with 13.4 seconds remaining that gave the Warriors a one-point lead.
After the Comets called timeout, Mike Haynei missed a three-pointer from the corner. Jason Yachera got the rebound and missed a short shot before the teams battled for the rebound, and time ran out.
"Things could've gone downhill for us, and things went their way at times, but I think we were able to capitalize on their mistakes," said Richardson, who benched three key players for disciplinary reasons. "It's hard to beat a team twice."
Woodlawn was on the verge of collapsing, wasting a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in less than five minutes as Catonsville gained a 41-40 advantage on a layup by Yachera with 1: 55 left.
Robinson put Woodlawn back up with two free throws, then was called for his fifth foul. The Warriors didn't get in his replacement in the required 30-second time limit and were hit with a technical.
Andy Ford converted three free throws for Catonsville with 1: 45 left, giving it a 44-42 lead, which grew to three after a free throw by Steve Remesch (14 points) with 52.9 seconds remaining.
A basket by Arnold Coates with 32 seconds left brought the Warriors to within one, then Catonsville turned the ball over on a traveling violation with 24 seconds remaining.
Allen drove to the basket before being fouled by Sam Adams with 13.4 seconds left. The 5-foot-9 guard connected on both free throws, giving Woodlawn the win.
"We had a tough schedule earlier in the season, but that was to prepare for now," said Allen. "We lost some of those games, but we're ready right now for the state playoffs."
The Warriors wanted to play up-tempo against Catonsville after Wednesday's loss, keeping the Comets from getting many three-point opportunities and cuts to the baskets.
Leading 23-22 at halftime, Woodlawn opened things up in the third quarter, scoring 12 of the first 14, extending the lead to 35-24. The Warriors held Catonsville without a field goal for five minutes.
"Our guys weren't ready to play," said Catonsville coach Jim Rhoads. "Winning the other night took a lot out of them. They just didn't play the same. In the fourth quarter, we're coming back, then they're flying all over the place, playing hard."
Pub Date: 2/21/99