No. 7 Lake Clifton rolls, Edmondson fends off Patterson Mill to set up 1A state boys basketball championship showdown (VIDEO HERE!)

Edmondson coach Darnell Dantzler give directions to his team during a timeout in Tuesday’s Class 1A state boys basketball semifinal contest with Patterson Mill. The 14th-ranked Red Storm made the plays in the first couple of minutes of regulation to turn away a tough No. 20 Patterson Mill squad at Henry A. Wise in Upper Marlboro.

by Demetrius Dillard

Two years ago, Edmondson High and Lake Clifton’s boys basketball teams were on a path to meet for a state championship before COVID-19 shuttered the remainder of the state tournament.

The anticipated meeting of Baltimore City rivals is finally going happen, though the No. 7 Lakers and 14th-ranked Red Storm took different paths in the Class 1A state semifinals Tuesday evening at Henry A. Wise in Upper Marlboro.

Lake Clifton routed Cambridge-South Dorchester, 59-29, while Edmondson inched past 20th-ranked Patterson Mill, 47-42, in the latter 1A state final four match. The Red Storm and Lakers meet for a third time this season, Friday at 6 p.m. at the University of Maryland, for the state championship.

Lake Clifton (20-1 overall) recovered from a slow start to move closer to a third straight championship. Quinton Monroe scored 25 points, including five makes from 3-point range, and had six steals while Myles McDuffie scored 15.

“The opposing team – Cambridge – they came out with the effort to fight and we just withstood it, and then we started making some additional plays and kept making plays,” said Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried.

The Lakers were stunted early offensively but Cambridge’s zone defense, but the Baltimore City champion’s relentless defensive effort wore down the Dorchester County and created easy scoring opportunities.

Up 11-9 after one, Lake Clifton held Cambridge to a field goal in the second, extending its lead to 35-12 at intermission. The Lakers upped the margin to 50-18 after three quarters as Monroe got going, either from the wing or penetrating zone gaps for scores inside.

“My teammates put me in positions to score and that’s what we needed, so I give that to my teammates,” said Monroe, a 6-foot-3 junior.

Kijuan Hargett and Kristopher Mitchell combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Jaslen Connor registered seven assists. Dario Belizaire had 12 points and six rebounds for Cambridge-South Dorchester (16-8), in its first state semifinal since 2006.

“Our defense made a change to slow their offensive execution up. We just switched our defense up and complicated them a little bit,” said Harried, whose team won the 1A title in 2019 and 2A crown in 2018. “It helped us create some turnovers that got us going offensively.”

Defense was what Edmondson needed to shake off a relentless, and worthy, Patterson Mill squad. Garren Edwards recorded 13 points and nine rebounds, and London Hinton converted two late free throws for Red Storm (20-3).

With the game tied at 42 and Patterson Mill with possession, Antwuan Bennett intercepted a downcourt pass, leading to a 17-foot jumper by Kyrie Sherrod giving Edmondson the lead with 1 minute, 40 seconds left in regulation.

Edwards, who said afterwards he needed to be a better defender, drew a charge on Huskies’ top scorer Kyle Luddy with 30 seconds left. Luddy stole the ensuing inbound, but missed a game-tying attempt.

Sherrod got to a loose ball and passed to Hinton, who was fouled with 23.2 seconds remaining. The senior converted both free throws to help put the game out of reach.

“First and foremost, we are definitely blessed with this opportunity because I remember 10th grade we had made it down Comcast, but unfortunately COVID had stopped it,” Hinton said. “So I’m just lucky and blessed that we came together, found some minor pieces and basically came together to form a great team.”

The Red Storm led 35-34 entering the fourth, but Patterson Mill rallied. The Huskies had a 42-39 lead with 3:49 left in regulation after driving layup by Luddy.

Sophomore Josiah Brown dropped a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:35 left in regulation, starting a decisive 8-0 close by the Red Storm.

“We were fortunate to get a couple of turnovers and a couple of calls weren’t going the kids’ way but I told them just keep fighting, just keep playing,” said Edmondson coach Darnell Dantzler. “They kept playing and I’m just proud of them for them to be going back down to Comcast because that’s what they were fighting so hard for.”

Dantzler implemented a late-game press defense, disguised as a man-to-man that confused Patterson Mill in the latter moments.

Senior point guard Jalen Connor directed an efficent offense for Lake Clifton, handing out seven assists in the Lakers’ romp of Cambridge-South Dorchester. The No. 7 Lakers will meet Edmondson for the state title, Friday evening at the University of Maryland.

“They (Edmondson) ran a foe, like a fake, man-to-man to get back into the same press that they’ve been running all game and all year long,” said Huskies coach Jerould Clark. “It was just that one possession the kids didn’t recognize they were in a foe pressure which, kudos to them, they confused the kids up front a little bit and just that one possession – it was the game.”

Will Pape finished with 17 points for Patterson Mill (21-3), and Tyree Wilson had 11. The Bel Air school, which beat several UCBAC Chesapeake Division squads while winning the lower division (Susquehanna) this season, played with the perennial Baltimore City stronghold the entire 32 minutes Tuesday.

“If that game there doesn’t prove we are one of the 15, 10 best teams in the state of Maryland, then I don’t know what else we gotta do,” said Clark. “We didn’t play our best game and still had a chance at the end of the basketball game.”

It will be an all-Baltimore City final Friday in College Park as Lake Clifton and Edmondson meet for the third time this season. The Lakers rallied for a 49-47 decision at Edmondson back in December.

Three weeks ago, Lake Clifton battled past the Red Storm in the fourth quarter for a 57-52 victory in the Baltimore City title game at Dunbar.

“It’s Baltimore City basketball…it’s a dogfight every day, every game we play,” said Dantzler, a former Dunbar player and assistant who has guided the West Baltimore school to two state championships. “Hopefully we can make a couple of adjustments and we’ll be ready to play Lake on Friday.”

Class 1A state semifinals

at Henry A. Wise

Edmondson-Westside 47, Patterson Mill 42

Edmondson 11 10 14 12 — 47

Patterson Mill 8 12 14 8 — 42

Edmondson: Edwards 13, Sherrod 9, Bennett 8, Brown 7, Hinton 4, West 2, Martin 2, Stewart 2. 16 10-14 47.

Patterson Mill: Will Pape 17, Wilson 11, Luddy 9, March 3, Drew Pape 2. 17 6-13 42.

No. 7 Lake Clifton 59, Cambridge-South Dorchester 29

Lake Clifton 11 24 15 9 — 59

Cambridge-SD 9 3 6 11 — 29

Lake Clifton: Monroe 25, McDuffie 15, Hargett 9, Mitchell 7, Mosley 2, Connor 1. 21 11-20 59.

Cambridge-SD: Dario Belizaire 12, Stanley 4, Jones 3, Hughes 3, Thompson 2, Darren Belizaire 2. 11 0-2 29.