As the final buzzer sounded in last night's game against City, Douglass guard Brandon Simms excitedly untucked his jersey, embraced teammates and smiled from ear to ear.
The senior had a good reason to be so happy. Thanks to his three-point shooting in the third quarter, and the team's poise in the fourth, the No. 9 Ducks escaped with a 55-52 win at home. Simms had 15 points in the third, including four threes.
"I told Brandon at the half, if you get open looks, take it," Douglass coach Rodney Coffield said. "He said, 'Coach, I'm feeling it,' and he gave us the cushion we needed."
Douglass (12-4) led 48-37 going into the final quarter but had to hold off a rally by the No. 4 Knights (11-3). The win finished a brutal stretch during which the Ducks defeated three straight ranked teams, and it put them in first place in Baltimore City's Division 2 at 6-0.
"Everybody said we'd lose to Northwestern, we'd lose to Digital Harbor, and we'd even lose to City," Ducks guard Omar Strong said. "We just play our game and prove them wrong."
The fourth quarter was intense, with players diving for every loose ball.
C.J. Fair scored five straight points for City to open the quarter. The Knights, who had been playing a 3-2 zone for most of the game, started having their guards shadow Strong and Simms exclusively, and used Fair to double-team Strong whenever he touched the ball.
The defensive change was effective. Douglass couldn't get into its offense and City clawed back into the game. With 1:18 left, the Ducks clung to a 54-52 lead.
Douglass then ran 40 seconds off the clock and Robert Eubanks broke free on the baseline and rose up for a layup. City's Adam Johnson, who was back after missing the team's past two games with an ankle injury, blocked his shot. With 20 seconds left, the Knights had an opportunity to tie or win.
The Knights' Quentin Goodwin got an open three-point look, but he couldn't convert. Eubanks made one of two free throws before City's Nathan Ayres put up a 25-footer at the buzzer that rimmed out.
Simms led Douglass with 23 points. Fair had 18 points and five rebounds for the Knights. City coach Mike Daniel did not coach the game, as he was sick with the flu.