When Randallstown ascended to the area's No. 1 ranking, some wondered if it was deserving. Last night, the Rams left no doubt they're again the best boys basketball team in Baltimore County.
Visiting Randallstown captured its third consecutive county championship, throttling No. 19 Woodlawn last night, 77-55. In its first action since Feb. 14, the Rams won for the 44th time in 46 games.
"I think the snow hurt both teams in the beginning," said Randallstown coach Kim Rivers, whose team suffered its only loss this season to No. 3 Dunbar. "Once we were able to get into our defensive pressure frame, we started playing Randallstown basketball."
Levi Stukes scored 26 points to lead Randallstown (19-1), and Tommy Breaux contributed 14. Lance Fuller led Woodlawn (13-6) with 14 points and Thomas Hickson had 12.
Randallstown built a 29-point advantage in the second half on its longtime rival. The Rams won the first meeting between the teams, 82-76, on their home court after fending off a huge fourth-quarter rally by Woodlawn.
It was a complete reversal in the rematch. Randallstown gained focus after the opening quarter and relentlessly wore down a Woodlawn team that had won its previous 12 games.
"We were just lackadaisical," Stukes said. "There was a lot of talking on the bus and our coach told us to get mentally ready."
Trailing 20-19 after the first quarter, Randallstown scored the first nine points of the second to gain the lead for good. The Rams held a 39-26 advantage with Stukes, a reigning first-team All-Metro guard, scoring 14.
Stukes rolled off eight straight points in a 16-0 surge, advancing the lead to 62-34 with 6:50 left. The Rams were aided by the sloppy play of Woodlawn, which committed more than 30 turnovers and went nearly eight minutes without a field goal.
"The biggest problem was settling the ball down and getting into an offensive set," said Woodlawn coach Eddie Green. "We felt our best chance was getting into a half-court game."
Both teams now turn their attention to regional play. Woodlawn will play host to Perry Hall in a Class 4A North regional quarterfinal next week, while Randallstown will face either Northwestern or Bel Air in the 3A North quarterfinals. The Rams lost to Douglass in last year's regional final.
"It's a one and your done," said Rivers, whose team is seeded second behind Douglass (ranked No. 4). " ... If we lose, that No. 1 ranking doesn't mean anything."