Fourth-quarter rally propels Northwestern

Northwestern coach Doug Robertson called his Wildcats "The Road Warriors" for having to play all of their games away from home thanks to renovations to the school's gymnasium.

"There were times where we practiced at recreation centers for only 45 minutes a day," said Robertson, whose 15th-ranked Wildcats made his 13th season a lucky one. "You want to play in your own gym in front of your own fans, but our kids never were able to do that. I had to convince them that every place we played was their home gym, and I guess they've believed in that."


Last night, the Wildcats (16-6) made Morgan State's Hill Field House their newest home turf, coming from behind to defeat fifth-ranked Lake Clifton, 44-40, for their 11th consecutive win and the program's first Baltimore City title.

Senior Jeremy Robinson scored 16 points, including seven of the Wildcats' first eight in the first quarter, after which his team led 11-3. Warren Wright added 10 points, and Jeremy Brightful contributed eight points and 10 rebounds in a game that featured 10 lead changes.


In the earlier girls final, Akeema Richards and Mischa Minor combined for 35 points to lead No. 6 Western to a 53-47 victory over City for its 21st city title in 30 years.

Against Northwestern, Lake Clifton (17-4) was led by Antoine Allen (11 points), Derrious Gilmore (10) and Terrence Jones (seven), but succumbed to a Wildcats squad that trailed 33-32 early in the fourth quarter before using a 9-2 run to all but put the game away, 41-35, with 1:25 to play.

"This was the one we needed," said Robinson, who buried his head in his hands and shed tears on the bench afterward. "It's great that we did this in my last year, but it's even better that we did it for our coach."

For Robertson, the win was especially sweet since he is considering retirement at "50-plus years old."

In the girls game, Western coach Tiffany Silver had planned to rest Minor after she rolled an ankle in Saturday's game, but changed her mind when City went up by seven.

Minor provided a third-quarter spark by scoring 11 points and boosting the Doves (19-4) to a 10-point lead. In the first half, Richards scored 11 of Western's 20 points. The duo combined for 17 of the Doves' 20 third-quarter points.

"Mischa came in and took over even though she had a bad ankle. She did what she had to for us to get this win," said Richards, who had 20 points while Minor had 15.

The Knights rallied within 47-42 on two LaShay Taft baskets with 4:10 to go. Minor then hit a layup, fed Shea Ellison and hit two free throws to seal it.


City, which won titles in 2004 and 2005, had to play without point guard Breaira Barksdale, temporarily sidelined with a foot injury.