Category: New Town HS
No. 14 Lake Clifton tops New Town for 2A North boys' basketball title; Daniel announces retirement (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
With a young varsity nucleus and promising junior varsity, Lake Clifton High boys' basketball team appeared to have a high ceiling a couple of seasons ago. The Lakers may not have met so-called expectations, but they're headed back to the state final four.
The No. 14 Lakers defeated New Town, 51-43, in the Class 2A North Region final in east Baltimore. Sophomore guard Michael Gray scored 18 points for Lake Clifton (18-5 overall), and Chauncey Smith added 12 points.
The Baltimore City school withstood a couple of New Town charges to earn its 10th trip to the University of Maryland. Friday evening, the Lakers will take on Frederick County's Oakdale in a 2A state semifinal on Gary Williams Court at the Xfinity Center.
Lake Clifton lost in the 1A final to Pocomoke in 2015, a disappointing end to a rebuilding season for a young roster. The Lakers fell to city league rival Dunbar in the 2A North semifinal last year.
Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried, who got his 400th victory earlier in the season, dispels the notion that his team has underachieved.
"I don't think it's been that bad," said Harried, who has guided Lake Clifton to three state titles in 22 seasons. "Every team wants to win championships, but if you're look at our last two or three seasons, 19-5, 18-6, we could be 6-18 or 5-18. We've been a few games short of getting where we are now, but it hasn't been all that bad."
"It's taken a lot of patience and lot of hard work," said Lakers senior guard Benjamin Carter. "There were pieces on the team last season that were more selfish than others. This year, we got a group of guys that are selfless."
With New Town (18-6) within 24-21, Carter, a three-year starter, hit back-to-back jumpers to start a 13-2 run. Sophomore guard Michael Gray's 4-point play capped it, putting the Lakers up 37-23 with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
New Town, which eliminated Edmondson in double overtime in Wednesday's region semifinal round, clawed back to 39-32 early in the fourth after Tyler Cameron's basket. Lake Clifton answered with a free throw each from Gray and Carter before Smith dropped 3-point dagger, extending its lead back to double-digits, 44-32, with 4:39 left in regulation.
"In the beginning of the season, we really didn't trust each other, everybody was trying to theirs," said Smith. "As the season went on, we started trusting each other and embracing our roles."
The St. Lo Drive school started clicking in the second quarter with 14-0 run, with Smith and Carter leading the way, for a 21-11 advantage. The Titans pulled to 24-21 after Tykei Ferrell's 3-point, but the Lakers regrouped after Harried called timeout.
"This time of the year, the goal is to advance," said "The more you advance the better your opponent will be. Whether it's sloppy, just win. New Town is very good team and I knew they well-coached because of Mike Daniel. He served the game of basketball well."
Daniel, who's coached New Town the last six seasons, announced his retirement following the game, ending a distinguished 34-year sideline journey. Daniel won nearly 600 games, four state public championship (two each at New Town and City College), four MIAA A Conference championships and four Baltimore Catholic League Tournament championships at now-defunct Towson Catholic.
"It's time to step down. There are some other things I want to do," said Daniel. "It's been a great ride at New Town. It was a good place and met a lot of good people."
Daniel expects Derrick Wise, a former player under Daniel at Towson Catholic who's been New Town's junior varsity coach the last three seasons, to be his successor.
Daniel, who beat Lake Clifton in the 2014 1A state final, beating the Lakers would be a huge undertaking.
"You have to got to play great basketball here. There's a lot of great memories, a lot of aura about Lake Clifton," said Daniel. "On top of that, Lake Clifton is well coached. Tree (Harried) does a great job."
Harried, a member of Bob Wade's legendary Dunbar teams of the early 1980s whose name is on the court at Lake Clifton, said he's pleased with how his players have matured on the court and in the classroom.
"This basketball is bigger than the team. The program serves the school, the community, the area" said Harried. "I'm happy for the people associated to have this experience."
Class 2A North Region boys' basketball championship
No. 14 Lake Clifton 51, New Town 43
New Town - Ferrell 10, Carter 9, Robinson 9, Guerrero 13, Cameron 2. Totals 18 5-7 43.
Lake Clifton - Carter 11, Lucas 7, Gray 18, Smith 12, Parker 3. Totals 17 12-26 51.
New Town 9 7 11 16 - 43
Lake Clifton 7 17 13 14 - 51