An all-Baltimore City showdown in the Class 1A boys basketball state final is on tap after the Charm City teams swept a semifinal doubleheader at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville on Wednesday.
No. 8 Edmondson (19-7) started the party with a 67-51 verdict over Fort Hill (22-3) in the opener while seventh-ranked Lake Clifton (21-4) pulled away in the fourth quarter to prevail over CMIT North, 65-58, in the nightcap.
The Edmondson-Lake Clifton state final will be held at the Xfinity Center in College Park at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The Red Storm snapped a 14-14 deadlock in the second quarter to pull ahead of Fort Hill, 32-25, at halftime of the opener.
That took some doing, considering that the Sentinals pulled to within 20-19 on a jumper by senior guard Mikey Allen midway through the second quarter before sophomore point guard Darnell Dantzler Jr.’s steal and stick-back ignited a 24-9 run that powered the Red Storm to a commanding 44-28 advantage with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Dantzler Jr.’s eight-point outburst to open the third period was a huge part of the sequence that put Edmondson on the fast track to College Park.
Fort Hill was never really able to recover or get within single digits of the Red Storm the rest of the way.
Dantzler, the son of Edmondson’s coach by the same name, finished with a game-high 19 points and was a sparkplug throughout the contest. Six-foot-8 Marcus Jackson was just one point shy of matching his classmate for scoring honors for a young, up-and-coming team.
The younger Dantzler, who averaged 24.2 points and nine assists per game coming into the contest, said that he and his teammates were well prepared for the long-range launches the Sentinels used this season to upend most of their opponents.
”We weren’t surprised,” he said. “We had to go over what they did, and we were ready. We worked hard for what we earned.”
Jackson said that his team’s size — front=court partner Chasse Foster is 6-10 — puts pressure on opponents.
While he had several crowd-pleasing dunks during the battle, Foster was more concerned with the Red Storm moving forward than with his throw-downs.
”Our main goal is just to win.” he said. “That’s what we are focused on. We just have to keep our heads in the right spot.”
Darnell Dantzler Sr. said that although his team faced some adversity during the year, the Red Storm is on the upswing now.
”For them to fight the way they did, to cut down on the turnovers…,” he said. “We took a couple of bad shots down the stretch, and I was just trying to get them to settle down. We’re a young ball club, and I’m happy for them to come out with the win.”
Lake Clifton definitely had a rougher time of it in the second game, especially when CMIT North rallied to take a 48-46 lead with 5:14 remaining in the fourth quarter on a baseline three-pointer by Devin Thomas.
Zammari Dorsey’s successive stick-backs put the Lakers back on top, 50-48, before Sean Devonish-Prince deadlocked the game for the Lions (17-6) at 50-all on a nifty move to the basket.
Just as he has done all year for Lake Clifton, Quinton Monroe, who was sidelined by foul trouble for a key stretch in the final frame, came off the bench to bury a triple from beyond the elbow to give his team the lead for good with 2:43 left in regulation.
A put-back by Kristopher Mitchell and an acrobatic drive by Jazae Jones with a minute to go stretched the margin to 57-50 and the Lakers iced the game by nailing eight of their final 11 free throws.
Monroe said that he was frustrated by spending time on the bench.”I feel like I was letting my teammates down,” he said, adding that he returned to the court “with the same energy” that he had before being sidelined.Despite the Lakers briefly being in a precarious position, Monroe insisted that his team didn’t feel any pressure.
Nor will there be a lot of pressure when the Red Storm meets Edmondson on Saturday for the 1A crown, he said.”We just have to do the same things when we beat them the first time (a 50-46 Laker victory on Dec. 16),” he said.
“We knew he just had to stay with it,” Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried said about the Lakers’ clutch play in the fourth quarter. “We’ve been through adversity before this season.”
CLASS 1A BOYS BASKETBALL SEMIFINALS
(AT RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL)
No. 8 EDMONDSON 67, FORT HILL 51
Edmondson 14 18 21 14 — 67
Fort Hill 14 8 11 15 — 51
Edmondson: Darnell Dantzler Jr. 19, Marcus Jackson 18, Chasse Foster 8, Xavier Davis 6, Josiah Brown 4, Malik Davis 4, Kyrie Sherrod 6, D’Andre Moore 2. Totals 30 1-5 67.
Fort Hill: Mikey Allen 15, Deshaun Brown 10, Steven Spencer 8, Owen Seifarth 8, Anthony Burns 6, Tony Palmisano 4. Totals 19 5-12 51.
NO. 7 LAKE CLIFTON 65, CMIT NORTH 58
Lake Clifton 14 20 10 21 — 65
CMIT North 16 12 12 18 — 58
CMIT North: Devin Thomas 25, Sean Devonish-Prince 20, Rami Mobaiden 5, Jarius Jackson 4, Nathan Enadeghe 2, Jayden Austin 2. Totals: 18 12-15 58.
Lake Clifton: Quinton Monroe 23, Jazae Jones 19, Zammari Dorsey 17, Kristopher Mitchell 6. Totals: 22 16-23 65.