Fourth quarter rally give Screaming Eagles Baltimore City Division II boys’ hoops crown; Montaz Wright and Barnett combine for 35 (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Derek Toney
Minutes after his team’s victory in the Baltimore City Division II boys’ basketball final Saturday afternoon, National Academy Foundation High’s Chris Barnett asked a reporter how many points he scored.
“We don’t care about stats,” said Screaming Eagles coach DeWayne Washington, giving Barnett a remindful stare.
“We care about winning,” replied Barnett.
The east Baltimore school prides itself this season on a team-first attitude. The mantra gained validation in a 63-60 victory over Digital Harbor at Morgan State University’s Hill Field House.
Barnett, a 6-foot-8 junior center, finished with a game-high 19 points for NAF (13-5 overall) and senior guard Montaz Wright added 16. Emmanuel Ludd led Digital Harbor (13-9) with 16 points.
The Screaming Eagles went on an 11-0 fourth quarter run to capture their second straight city title. NAF, located in the old Dunbar Middle School building on Caroline Street, defeated New Era Academy in last year’s final.
“This year’s team has more chemistry,” said Barnett. “Everybody’s from the same way…we all got love for each other.”
“It’s no more ‘I,’ said Washington, in his first season after being the top assistant last year. “I got a group of basketball players with high basketball IQs.”
The Eagles aptly let Wright and Barnett, the lone starters from last season, guide them down stretch Saturday. Barnett scored seven of his 13 second half points in the fourth, while Wright accounted for seven points during the decisive 11-0 surge.
“We just kept fighting,” said Wright.
Wright gave props to Barnett.
“He’s maintained his cool, played great defense,” said Wright. “As long as we have the big fellow we’re good.”
Trailing 53-50, NAF got a basket and a 3-pointer from Wright to gain a 55-53 advantage with 2 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in regulation. Digital Harbor missed the front end of an one-and-one, and Barnett scored on the other end, extending the run.
The Screaming Eagles got a defensive stop and Wright drove to the basket for another score. Alonzo Horton’s layup off a behind-the-back pass from Kenard Colclogh, made it 61-53 with 54 seconds left in regulation.
Colclogh, a sophomore guard, finished with 15 points Saturday. Junior Tracy Kitchen and varsity holdover Dontrell Parham joined Barnett and Wright in the starting lineup.
Digital Harbor, which split with NAF during the regular season, opened up a 33-24 advantage midway through third quarter. The Screaming Eagles went on a 16-6 run, capped with recent junior varsity callup Tavon Hartz’s 3-pointer, but Ludd’s jumper in the waning seconds regained the lead for the Rams entering the fourth.
NAF led 50-44 after Michael Wright’s trifecta with under six minutes left in regulation before Digital Harbor answered with nine straight to cease back momentum. But the Rams, who defeated then-reigning Division I champ and defending Class 2A state champ Patterson in their season debut, were held without a field goal for more than three minutes.
After NAF won its first basketball title nearly a year ago, Washington said the team was content. The Screaming Eagles are looking to make a deep run in the 1A state playoffs.
“All they talk about is playing at the University of Maryland,” said Washington. “They’re willing to put in the work to get there. I just hope and pray these guys come together and stay together.”
Baltimore City Division II boys’ basketball championship
at Morgan State University
National Academy Foundation 63, Digital Harbor 60
National Academy – Michael Wright 3, Colclogh 15, Barnett 19, Montaz Wright 16, Horton 2, Hartz 8. Totals 24 7-13 64.
Digital Harbor – Harris 6, Ludd 16, Green 14, Johnson 10, Young 4, Bowles 10. Totals 23 12-18 60.
National Academy 14 8 18 24 – 64
Digital Harbor 8 15 16 19 – 60