No. 8 Woodlawn slips past Perry Hall, gains inside track to Baltimore County boys’ hoops final; Warren scores 22 (VIDEO HERE!!)

Woodlawn’s Demauri Warren (center) readies to power up to the basket as Perry Hall’s Laquill Hardnett (left) and Anthony Higgs defends during the second half of Wednesday’s Baltimore County boys’ basketball contest. Warren finished with a game-high 22 points as the No. 8 Warriors held on for a 52-50 victory over the 11th-ranked Gators on Woodlawn Drive.

After outplaying Perry Hall in the first half Wednesday, Woodlawn boys’ basketball coach Bobby Richardson knew it was a matter of time before the Gators respond. But he was little unsure about his squad.

The No. 8 Warriors didn’t make it easy before emerging with a 52-50 victory over the 11th-ranked Gators in a Baltimore County Division II contest. Senior forward Demauri Warren scored 22 points for Woodlawn (11-2 overall), and Reshaud Garrison added 12.

The win give the Warriors sole possession of first in Division II (5-0). The top team in Division I and II will play for the county title, Feb. 20 at Towson University’s SECU Arena.

Woodlawn, which won the county crown two seasons ago, lost at Perry Hall last season. The Warriors missed two game-tying shots at the basket in the waning seconds. The Gators went to win their first county championship.

Woodlawn couldn’t wait to get another shot at the defending Class 4A state champs on its home court.

“This was the main game we were looking forward to,” said Warriors senior guard Mark Brinkley. “I know Milford [Mill] is our rival, but they beat us last year and kept us out the county championship.”

“We watched that game the other day,” said Richardson.

Monday, Richardson saw Perry Hall rallied from a 15-point third quarter deficit to beat Prince George’s County power Eleanor Roosevelt. Woodlawn controlled the first half Wednesday, playing zone defense to neutralize the Gators’ size.

Perry Hall stormed back midway in the third, running off eight straight points, capped with a Anthony Walker alley-oop dunk and rebound and score, for a 33-30 advantage. Woodlawn, aided by a technical foul on the Gators, answered as Warren scored off a drive, giving it a 36-33 lead entering the fourth.

“We just had to keep our composure,” said Warren. “We know going man-to-man would be hard against three 6-8’s and our tallest player is 6-5. We had to make sure we packed the zone, boxed out and rebounds.”

Free throws (12-of-28) were the one thing the Warriors didn’t do well, missing 10 in the final quarter. Woodlawn did close strong, converting six of its last eight.

“I told them they’re going to make run, we got to have keep our composure and have some poise,” said Richardson. “They got the big dunk and went ahead by one, but we had to stick with the game plan: give them one shot and let’s shoot over 50-percent. It got a little frantic sometimes and we didn’t take care of the ball very well, but we played so hard and with effort and heart and it paid off.”

Walker, a 6-8 junior, finished with 13 for Perry Hall (9-5, 5-1 Division II), which lost its first county match (including postseason) in 32 decisions dating back to 2016 (lost to Lansdowne). The Gators, coming off Monday’s huge performance against Eleanor Roosevelt, struggled from the perimeter Wednesday and missed 13 free throws.

“They slowed us down, controlled the tempo and did what they wanted to do. We couldn’t make an outside jumper,” said Perry Hall coach George Panageotou, “We had trouble getting inside their zone, even with our height. When we did, we got fouled and couldn’t make free throws.”

No. 8 Woodlawn 52, No. 11 Perry Hall 50

Perry Hall – Cloude 2, Hardnett 10, Gravette 5, Walker 14, Johnson 2, Holley 7, Higgs 10. Totals 22 3-16 50.

Woodlawn – Brinkley 11, Warren 22, Garrison 12, Blakeney 1, Lewis 6. Totals 17 12-28 52.

Perry Hall 9 10 14 17 – 50

Woodlawn 15 9 12 16 – 52