Larry Walker didn’t start for Ben Franklin High boys’ basketball team Friday. But the junior was there when the Bayhawks needed him.
The reserve guard scored 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter, leading Ben Franklin to a 64-59 victory over 20th-ranked and previously undefeated Douglass, 64-59, in a Baltimore City Division II contest in Curtis Bay.
Senior Anthony Coffey and junior Dameon Suggs each finished with 12 points for Ben Franklin (11-5 overall, 4-3 Division II). Senior guard Donnell Ratchford had a game-high 19 points for Douglass (14-1, 8-1 Division II).
After relinquishing a 17-point lead, Ben Franklin regrouped in the final quarter to revived its hopes for a second straight city title. The top two teams in the division will play for the championship later this month at Morgan State University’s Hill Field House.
“We were looking forward to this game. They got us by three at Douglass and we didn’t play well,” said Bayhawks coach William Russell. “We knew we could put some points on the board. Larry really stepped up for us today.”
The 6-foot-2 backup point guard took over after Douglass claimed a 49-48 advantage at the start of the fourth quarter. He accounted for the Bayhawks’ first 12 points in the fourth with four baskets, two free throws and an assist.
Walker gave the credit to his fellow reserves and the Ben Franklin faithful.
“It all started with the bench, they got us going, then the crowd got us going,” said Walker. “Once we got them on our back, nobody can stop us.”
After Ratchford’s three-pointer put the Ducks up 49-48, Walker immediately answered with a drive to the basket and was fouled. The Bayhawks forced a turnover and Walker found Deshawn Young, extending the lead to 52-49.
The Cambria Street school held a 62-53 with 2:29 left in regulation, but Douglass pulled to 62-59 on Tony Atkins’ three-pointer with 61 seconds left. With 43.7 seconds remaining, Walker missed the front end of an one-and-one, but the Ducks missed on a three-pointer and one-and-one opportunity.
The Bayhawks jumped on the Division II-leading Ducks, building a 27-7 early in the second quarter after a three-point by Walker. Douglass upped its defensive pressure, closing the quarter with a 17-2 run to trail 34-32.
The Ducks grabbed their first lead at the start of the fourth as Ratchford dropped a three-pointer. It would be their last lead as Ben Franklin scored eight of next 10 points.
Despite tasting defeat for the first time, Douglass coach Sylvester Banks has been pleased with the play of his senior-dominated squad this season.
“We’ve been taking it day-by-day. We’ll bounce back,” said Banks. “This is a tough place to play. They just outplayed us in the end.”
Ben Franklin 63, No. 20 Douglass 59
Ben Franklin – Young 8, Potillo 9, Coffey 12, Walker 15, Suggs 12, Grier 6, Braham 2. Totals 25 10-14 63.
Douglass – Neal 4, Manigo 10, Holloway 12, Davis 8, Daniels 1, Atkins 5, Ratchford 19. Totals 20 14-26 59.
Douglass 6 26 14 13 – 59
Ben Franklin 22 12 14 15 – 63