SILVER SPRING - City boys basketball’s “Revenge Tour” is headed to College Park.
The No. 3 Knights advanced to the Class 3A state title game with a 94-61 rout of 14th-ranked Aberdeen in a 3A state semifinal at Montgomery County’s Blair. Senior forward Cam Horton had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Kyree Smith added 20 and 3 assists.
The Knights went on a late first half run, then blitzed the UCBAC Chesapeake champions over the final 16 minutes to move onto the doorstep of perfection. City (27-0 overall) will play Montgomery County’s Damascus for the 3A championship, Thursday evening at 8 at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.
The Northeast Baltimore school, known as “The Castle on the Hill,” is 32 minutes away from joining Baltimore City high school basketball royalty. Only four times a city boys team has won a state championship with an undefeated record since city schools joined the state association (MPSSAA) in the 1992-93 school year, the last being City in 2014.
“City hasn’t been there in nine years and we’re one win away,” said Smith, a 6-foot-4 senior guard. “We want to make history.”
The path started a year ago at North Point in Charles County. The Knights had a nine-point fourth quarter advantage against Calvert County’s Huntingtown in the 3A state semifinals, only to squandered it.
Final score: Huntingtown 63, City 61 in double overtime.
“We’ve taken everything a little more serious, from practices to the games,” said Horton, “to take that extra step.”
Tuesday in Silver Spring, City took a resounding step. Four players finished in double figures with Daniel Parsons scoring 17 along with 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and senior Kwon Johnson with 15.
After back-and-forth play through the first 13 minutes, the Baltimore City champs overwhelmed Aberdeen. The Knights led by as many 39 points before emptying their bench with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in regulation.
“It showed how focused we were. I reminded them what got us here: being who you are individually, being who we are collectively,” said City coach Omarr Smith. “That has gotten us here. We just needed to play hard for 32 minutes.”
After Saturday’s quarterfinal victory over Centennial, Smith was concerned with his team’s shooting since winning the Baltimore City championship two weeks ago. At times, City found the basket with relative ease Tuesday.
“We noticed they played man (man-to-man) and don’t sub a lot, we watched a lot of film,” said Smith. “When they went zone, we knew we had them.”
Aberdeen (22-5), playing its first state semifinal since 2005, led 33-32 after Tylan Bass jumper with 3:41 left in the second quarter. Johnson regained the lead for City on a drive.
Then, the floodgates exploded. A steal and layup by Johnson was followed by a jumper from Trent Egbiremolen. After an Eagle miss, Horton got his shot off a strong drive to fall and was fouled.
Parsons stole the ball and got it upcourt to Johnson for an easy score. Smith nabbed an offensive board and scored and Parsons finished a drive with 19 seconds left.
Three minutes. 17 straight points.
“We just kept up the pressure,” Parsons said. “We kept attacking the basket, didn’t shoot as many 3s as we usually do.”
The lead grew to 75-51 after three. A basket by Smith completed a 16-0 run, giving City a 90-51 lead with 2:44 left in regulation.
“We really wanted to emphasize defense because they’re (Aberdeen) a good shooting team and they like to run,” said Horton. “We wanted to turn our defense into offense...a lot of stops, a lot of loose balls, a lot of rebounds, we wanted to attack the glass.”
Darrion Paris finished with 18 points for Aberdeen, and Bass added 14 and 2 assists. The Eagles got off to a promising start with a 12-8 advantage in the first, then rallied from a 9-point deficit early in the second.
Aberdeen coach Bill Jones said his team couldn’t keep up with City’s firepower.
“We like to run just like they do. Our offense comes from our defense...they just didn’t have confidence in themselves,” said Jones. “Our legs weren’t there and it finally caught up with us.”
Aberdeen enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent years. In addition to winning the UCBAC Chesapeake, the Eagles competed with 4A state semifinalist Parkville and a much-improved Calvert Hall squad.
“The program has been down for 10 or so years and it’s been our goal to get Aberdeen back on the map in the state,” Jones said. “We finished 22-5 playing a very competitive schedule and beat some good teams.”
City starters celebrated on the bench as their reserve mates finished out the final 2 minutes Tuesday.
It was a far cry from last year’s state semifinal experience, followed by a hour-plus ride from Waldorf back to Northeast Baltimore.
“The difference between last year and this year is last year we weren’t prepared,” said Horton, one of four returning starters. “This year, we were prepared.”
The final stop on City’s “tour” will be College Park where Damascus awaits. The Hornets defeated previously undefeated Frederick in the second 3A state semifinal at Blair.
City seeks to join Southwestern (1997), Douglass (2002) and Lake Clifton (2008) and the 2014 Knights as undefeated Baltimore City state champions.
“[I told them] we’re not finished yet — there’s one more,” said Smith, who was an assistant on the 2014 squad that finished a 27-0 season with the 3A state title. “We’re one step closer than we were last year. ... We just talked about living in the moment, not taking it for granted, what’s at stake and putting their names in the history book.”
CLASS 3A STATE SEMIFINAL
at Montgomery Blair
NO. 3 CITY 94, NO. 14 ABERDEEN 61
Aberdeen - Bass 14, Parris 18, Brown 6, Hunter 6, Rodgers 12, Franklin 2, Comacho 3. Totals: 23 3-3 61.
City - Parsons 17, Smith 20, Horton 26, Egbiremolen 6, Johnson 15, Alexander 6, London 2, Weaver 2. Totals: 40 13-14 94.
Aberdeen 14 19 18 10 - 61
City 20 29 26 19 - 94