Lake Clifton battles past Oakdale to advance 2A state boys’ basketball final; No. 13 River Hill fades against North Caroline (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS/PRESS CONFERENCES HERE!)

River HIll’s Dylan Daniels (left) tries to stop North Caroline’s Ja’mion Franklin’s shot during the first half of Friday’s second Class 2A boys’ basketball state semifinals. The No. 13 Hawks weren’t able to maintain a halftime lead, falling 62-48 to the Bulldogs from Caroline County at the Xfinity Center.

by Derek Toney

The last time Lake Clifton High boys’ basketball team played at the University of Maryland, the Lakers’ youth and inexperience showed in a fourth quarter title game collapse.

It was a different story for the Lake Clifton Friday. The No. sx Lakers defeated Frederick County’s Oakdale, 68-61, in a Class 2A state semifinal.

The Lakers from Baltimore City will play North Caroline, Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Xfinity Center for the state title. The upstart Bulldogs from Caroline County ended No. 13 River Hill’s season with a 62-48 victory in the nightcap.

In their first state final four since a magical run atop the Class 3A mountain 11 years, the Hawks weren’t able to conjured any momentum Friday.

“We did a lot of uncharacteristic things,” said River Hill coach Matt Graves. “Our turnovers weren’t good, a lot of quick possessions. We did build a little bit of momentum to kind of fight back.”

Trailing 10 points entering the fourth, River Hill climbed to within 49-43 with 3:40 left in regulation after Jaden Martin’s basket off a drive. North Caroline got a basket from Joey Adams, starting a closing 13-5 run.

Adams, a senior guard, scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half, and Ja’mion Franklin, a Notre Dame football recruit, and Tynez Warner each added 11. Martin finished with 18 points for River Hill.

The Hawks had a seven-point second quarter lead that dwindled to one by halftime. North Caroline opened the second half with three unanswered daggers – two from Adams – to gain a 36-28 halftime advantage.

“In Howard County, there’s nobody shooting like that,” Martin said. “When you have three guys on their team taking one dribble and pulling up, your hand is there, but good offense beats good defense.”

River Hill, one of the area’s better 3-point shooting teams, finished just 3-for-23 from the behind arc. The Hawks only attempted six free throws.

“They created contact when they went to the basket and we tried to avoid it,” said Graves.

Jacob Krause had 14 points and Luke Champion finished with nine points and 11 rebounds for River Hill, which won a second straight Howard County league crown (shared title with Oakland Mills). The Hawks had one of the area’s veteran-laden teams with seniors Martin, Krause, Champion, Dylan Daniels and Brenden McKenna in the starting five.

“This is definitely the best team I’ve ever played with, not because of the winning, but the character of the people,” said Martin. “I felt like I’ve made brothers.”

In a tightly contested match, Lake Clifton’s poise and grit equaled another trip to Championship Saturday.

Sophomore guard Michael Gray had 22 points for Lake Clifton (21-5), and Benjamin Carter added 19, including four free throws in the final 40 seconds of regulation.

Oakdale’s Chase French (34) tries to get a shot off of the glass as Lake Clifton’s Armon Harried (left) and Ronald Lucas defends during the first half of Friday’s Class 2A boys’ basketball state semifinal. The No. 14 Lakers pulled away late from the Frederick County squad to gain a spot in Saturday’s state title match with North Caroline.

“We got a lot of good guys on this team. We’re fighters — soldiers — and we pulled through, stayed focused and pulled through,” Carter said.

Carter, Stephen Brown and Ronald Lucas were sophomores when the Lakers lost Pocomoke after leading by 11 points early and entered the fourth quarter with the lead. The east Baltimore school managed just six points in the decisive fourth period.

Carter, Brown and Lucas started Friday along with another senior, Chauncey Smith. Junior guard Armon Harried, who posted a solid 12 points and four rebounds before fouling out, played Friday.

Armon Harried broke a 50-50 deadlock in the fourth with a jumper, and Lucas nabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Carter scored off a drive, giving the Lakers a 56-50 advantage with 3 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

Oakdale got to within 56-52, but Lake Clifton’s free throw shooting and maturity punched its ticket to a seventh state final game. Collin Schlee led Oakdale (25-2) with 22 points.

There were eight lead changes and four ties in the second half Friday.

“It was a battle — [Oakdale] battled,” said Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried. “It was like a boxing match and we just happened to win the final round.”

The Lakers have one more round to go Saturday.

Class 2A boys’ basketball state semifinals

at University of Maryland

No. 14 Lake Clifton 68, Oakdale 61

Oakdale – Schlee 22, DeLorenzo 15, Polke 7, Jezioro 4, French 9, Cawford 4. Totals 18 19-21 61.

Lake Clifton – Carter 19, Lucas 5, Gray 22, Smith 2, Parker 8, Harried 12. Totals 25 15-21 68.

Oakdale 12 18 16 15 – 61

Lake Clifton 7 23 20 18 – 68

North Caroline 62, No. 13 River Hill 48

North Caroline – Bailey 9, Adams 29, Warner 11, Brown 2, Franklin 11. Totals 20 15-21 62.

River Hill – Krause 14, Champion 9, Martin 18, Daniels 2, Mann 3, Okojie 2. Totals 21 3-6 48.

North Caroline 11 16 14 21 – 62

River Hill 13 15 4 15 – 48