COLLEGE PARK – On the first possession of the second half of Saturday’s Class 1A state championship game, Lake Clifton junior guard Michael Gray took an extra step back from the 3-point line and let one go from the left side that found net.
On the next trip against Southern-Garrett, Lakers senior Armon Harried launched a 3 from the right side with the same result. Shortly after, he hit another one.
It was that kind of day, a record-setting one for the Lakers.
Harried closed his high school career with 35 points and Gray added 22 – the two scoring all 24 of the Lakers points in a scintillating third quarter that proved the highlight in a dominating 64-46 win over Southen-Garrett at Xfinity Center.
Lake Clifton, which claimed the Class 2A state title last year, has now won six state championships and becomes the first school to win one in all four classifications. All have come under coach Herman “Tree” Harried, who has won 444 games in his 23 years.
“It’s great for our school, our community. Basketball at Lake Clifton is everything for the area,” Harried said. “I’m just proud to bring that kind of positive spirit to the school and the area, bring that history to the school, so it feels great.”
That his son, Armon, took the lead role this season made it that more special. In Friday’s 58-56 semifinal win over Frederick Douglass-PG, the senior forward scored a game-high 27 points. He followed with the 35 on Saturday – the most by a player in a championship game since 2008 – and added 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals. For the younger Harried, who had a lesser role on last year’s senior-laden championship team, the individual accolades are secondary.
“It’s more than just about that. I know the younger people on my team got a chance to get a ring,” he said. “I had my chance last year and I had another chance this year. I had to score for us to win, so it wasn’t about me trying to fill a goal. It’s for us to win and now I know everybody on my team got the chance to feel the same way I felt last year.”
The Lakers led 34-22 at the half and the Rams (23-3) were forced to play a zone defense to start the third quarter due to foul trouble. The Lakers, who went 0-for-6 behind the 3-point line in Friday’s semifinal game, fared significantly better in their most efficient shooting quarter of the season. Harried and Gray combined to hit five of seven 3-point tries – a 71 percent clip – and the two were 69 percent from the floor in the third quarter. For the game, they were 52 percent from long distance.
“I don’t think we shot that well in about 10, 12, 14 games. They just picked the right time to do it,” coach Harried said. “And [the third quarter run] gave us a good margin. So they just turned it up when we needed it and they’ve done that all season.”
As the teams lined up to shake hands, the two Harrieds first took time for a quick embrace. The father-son combo will always have March 16, 2019 at the Xfinity Center.
“It’s a blessing,” coach Harried said. “He learned how to ride his bike [in the Lake Clifton gym], how to walk in that gym, how to talk, do his homework. That gym is not a gym to him, it’s home. And to see him have this kind of success once he had a chance to get in that gym, it’s amazing.”
LC – Harried 35, Gray 22, Harris 7. Totals: 24 6-7 64
SG – Rodeheaver 14, Wiles 11, Ashby 8, Wilt 2, McLaughlin 7, Shafer 2, McClung 2. Totals: 19 1-4 46
Half: LC, 34-22