Woodlawn coach Edward Green told his team going into yesterday's Baltimore County championship game against undefeated Randallstown that if it played hard it had a good chance to win.
The visiting Warriors did just that, and they had the No. 5 Rams on the ropes for much of the second half, but they couldn't, at first, find a way to go on a run for a knockout punch.
But Woodlawn center Lewis Lambert took things into his own hands, even though he had four fouls, and scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors pull off perhaps the biggest upset of the high school season in a 77-68 victory.
"I was getting some space, but I was also getting the rebounds at both the offensive and defensive end," said Lambert, who had nine rebounds. "We matched up well against them."
Mike Dixon had a team-high 18 points for Woodlawn, Danny Smith scored 10 and had eight assists, and Antoine Proctor had 11 points, seven rebounds and six steals.
The teams tried to outmuscle each other throughout, and bodies ended up being strewn across the floor in attempts to grab rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, there were five lead changes before Woodlawn began to pull away. After Randallstown took a 59-56 lead with 4:36 left, the Warriors went on a 12-2 run over the next two minutes to earn some breathing room.
The Rams (21-1) closed the gap to 68-66 with 1:23 left, but the Warriors then went on another run, making seven of 14 of free throws, to seal the win.
"We started off slow at 1-3, but the kids pulled it together and now we're Baltimore County champions," Green said. "If we brought our A game, we knew we would have a good shot."
Randallstown All-Metro guard Johnny Higgins had a game-high 19 points before fouling out in the closing seconds and junior Darrell Bryant contributed 18.
Rams coach Kim Rivers said his team learned a valuable lesson about working hard as it continues to seek its second straight state title.
"These kids weren't focused, and if you don't focus, you lose," Rivers said. "They have to want it. They have to come into practice and be committed to winning a championship. You can't walk on the court and think you are champions because someone else was champion last year."