Even in the midst of an epic battle that at times had both teams on the verge of victory, Dunbar coach Cyrus Jones said he never doubted his Poets would pull out yesterday's Class 1A North final at Owings Mills.
"It's not that we're overconfident," Jones said, "but we've been here before."
It was that kind of confidence that helped the 11-time state champions close out the upstart Eagles in triple overtime, taking the lead for good on Sean Farr's perimeter drive and slam with 44 seconds left, then sealing an 87-81 win seconds later when Richard Brown put back his missed free throw.
Dunbar (16-8), which has won eight straight, advances to the 1A state semifinals at Comcast Center in College Park, where it will face the winner of yesterday's game between unbeaten Snow Hill and Pocomoke on Friday at 3 p.m.
Owings Mills (18-6) was seeking the program's first trip to the state semifinals, while the Poets have won 15 regional titles in the past 16 years, including the past seven.
To win this one, however, they first had to stop an Owings Mills team that led by as many as eight after opening the second half with an 11-0 run, then took a 72-70 lead on a leaner in the lane by 6-foot-9 junior Andrew Fitzgerald with 5.2 seconds left in the second overtime. Fitzgerald scored a game-high 32 points.
The Poets, however, forced a third overtime when Jermaine Mackall Jr. was fouled driving to the basket with 0.6 of a second left and made both free throws.
With the scored tied at 79 in triple overtime, Farr (20 points) - who had missed a layup at the end of the first overtime that would have ended the game - got the ball about 20 feet out on the left side, took three strides and slammed over a defender.
"I saw the opening, then the whole thing just opened up like a sea," Farr said.
Owings Mills hurt its case at the foul line, where the Eagles made just 14 of 33, including three of eight in the third overtime.
"They hit their free throws when it counted, and we didn't," Owings Mills coach Richard Epps said. "Somebody had to lose."
Parkville 71, North Carroll 58 -- The Knights (18-6) used an 18-10 third quarter to break open a close game against the visiting Panthers (16-9) and capture the 4A North title. Parkville will make its first appearance in the state semifinals since 1987. The game was tied at 23 at halftime, but Tavon Perry scored six of his eight points in the third period to help the Knights build a comfortable lead they never relinquished. Leading scorer Tim Wiggins also had a big second half, when he scored 10 of his 14 points. Tom Cummings added 13 points for Parkville, while Kenny Krieger had 12 points for the Panthers.
No. 14 Long Reach 51, No. 13 Aberdeen 41 -- Obi Ukwuoma's 10 points and 11 rebounds helped the host Lightning (24-2) get by the Eagles (21-3) in the 3A East final. Deon Queen added 15 points for the victors. Devon Branch (10 points) and Tyree Moore (15) paced Aberdeen.
Thomas Stone 84, No. 10 Old Mill 76 -- Despite a game-high 22 points from Marvin Pinkney, the host Patriots lost to the Cougars in 4A East play. Four of the five Thomas Stone starters scored in double figures, led by Rodney Clark's 19 points. Old Mill held a rebounding edge at halftime, but the Cougars turned up their defense and controlled the boards to pull away in the second half.
Sun reporters contributed to this article.