Lake Clifton's Tavon Nelson could hardly describe the dizzying finish to last night's Baltimore City title game against Douglass at Morgan State's Hill Field House.
And if anyone in the crowd of an estimated 2,000 blinked, they missed it, as well.
With 9.8 seconds left, Derrick Haynes threw a court-length pass to Nelson, who dribbled amid two defenders before passing to DaShaal Grade for a layup and a one-point lead with 1.2 seconds left as sixth-ranked Lake Clifton dethroned fourth-ranked Douglass, 52-49.
"I don't know what happened exactly, but I was just thinking, there's one guy on this side and another guy over here, so I better give it up," said the 6-foot-8 Nelson, whose pair of free throws following Grade's layup were the result of a technical foul called on Douglass for calling a timeout that it didn't have.
"We've got a lot of fight in us," Nelson said. "It's not over until that last buzzer sounds."
The victory was the ninth straight for Lake Clifton (17-4), which last was defeated, 50-48, at Douglass (19-2) on Jan. 4 on a buzzer-beating layup by Devine Morris. That was the 39th straight win by the Ducks, the defending Class 3A state champions, whose streak reached 46 before ending at Morgan State in a loss to No. 3 Dunbar.
"I know my kids, I know my system," said Lakers coach Herman Harried, whose team trailed 11-7 after one period last night and 25-22 at halftime. Lake Clifton trailed by as many as 13 points midway through the second quarter.
The Ducks were led by Jermaine Bolden (18 points) and Tre Love (10 points, nine rebounds).
"We were out of this game tonight and things weren't going our way," said Harried. "But I kept telling the guys to stay together and you'll win this game."
Nelson's dunk with 3:54 to play brought the Lakers within 44-41. A jumper by Paris Carter (20 points) had Lake Clifton within 44-43 with 2:22 to play.
Down 47-43 after a reverse layup by Morris with 1:35 showing, Lake Clifton got Carter's free throw, a putback by Nelson (17 points, nine rebounds) and a driving layup by Dontae Ridley off a steal by Grade to go up 48-47 with 21.5 seconds left.
But the Ducks weren't done.
They led 49-48 after Darrell Clark's court-length, driving layup with less than 10 seconds to play, setting up the game-ending sequence.
"Even with that, we never thought the game was over. We just never gave up," said Carter. "We knew all along we were going to win this game."