Patterson stuns No. 3 Poly with late rally, wins in OT; Mungo and Price each score 18 (VIDEO HERE!)

Patterson’s Jalen Willis (11) knocks the ball away Poly’s Justin Lewis during the first half of Tuesday’s Baltimore City boys basketball contest. The No. 4 Clippers wiped out a 14-point deficit in the fourth to force overtime where they went on to a 67-64 victory in front of a standing only room audience in east Baltimore.

by Derek Toney

For most of Tuesday’s Baltimore City boys’ basketball showdown between Poly and Patterson, the Engineers controlled the match with their length. Shaken, not deterred, Patterson remained vigilant and put together a breathtaking comeback.

The fourth-ranked Clippers defeated No. 3 Poly, 67-64, in overtime in front of an electric standing room only audience in east Baltimore. Marvin Price and Gerard Mungo each scored 18 points for Patterson (11-2 overall).

Mungo’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in in the extra session was the difference for the Clippers, who rallied from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit.

“This was a resilient effort. Poly is a great team,” said Patterson coach Harry Martin. “I told the guys it would take one run. We kept battling and battling. It wasn’t pretty, but I told them keep fighting.”

“It was felt like a state championship,” said Mungo, “but the only thing is we didn’t get hardware for it.”

The win puts the Kane Street school in the driver’s seat for a spot in next month’s city title game. At 5-0 (Division B), Patterson is a game up on Poly (8-4, 3-1 Division B), in addition to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Clippers have Ben Franklin and ACCE left in division play. No. 8 Lake Clifton and 11th-ranked Edmondson are tied for first in the A Division.

Patterson is on the verge of a second city title trip in three seasons behind a dogged effort over the game’s final 12 minutes. The Clippers did most of it without Price, arguably their best player, who fouled out late in regulation.

“Everybody else just stepped up. It’s not just a one-man team,” said Price. “Anybody can bring it any night with energy. We just kept fighting.”

Trailing 57-48 with 2:22 remaining in regulation, Patterson got to 57-54 after two free throws from Price with 40.5 seconds left. The 6-foot-5 wing, regarded as the city’s league top senior, picked up his fifth and final foul with 26.8 seconds to play in regulation.

Poly junior guard Rakeem Ali missed both ends of the double bonus, and TJ Thomas was fouled on the other end for Patterson with 15.4 seconds remaining. Thomas hit one of two free throws, making it 57-55.

The Engineers inbounded the ball to Ali, who was doubled by Zac Blackwell and Jalen Willis under the basket. Blackwell knocked the ball out and was fouled by Ali with 11 seconds. The junior guard hit both free throws tying the game.

Blackwell came up with another steal near midcourt, but lost the ball on a drive to the basket (ball went off a Poly and out of bounds) with 0.8 seconds left. Mungo missed on a quick heave from the corner, and the match went to overtime.

Blackwell, who scored 14 points, said defense was key in the rally.

“You can put the ball in the basket, but you got to get stops and defend people,” said Blackwell.

Patterson got its first lead as senior reserve Leroy Noble’s basket off a dish from Willis opened the overtime. It was even at 63 when Noble found Mungo, who drained a dagger near the 3-point elbow, putting the Clippers back on top, 66-63.

“Confidence,” said Mungo, who struggled with his shot in the first half of the season.

Ali was fouled by Noble behind the 3-point line with 2.3 seconds left in overtime. Ali converted just one of three, and Blackwell was fouled with 0.9 seconds remaining.

Blackwell hit the latter of the double bonus. Some of the Clippers faithful ran on the court as the final buzzer sounded to celebrate an improbable comeback.

After a furious start, featuring several dunks and intense verbal exchanges between the squads, Poly broke out to a 12-point midway in the second. The Engineers, using their length to bogged down Patterson’s perimeter offense, led 49-34 late in the third after Brandon Murray’s 3-pointer.

Despite the huge deficit, Mungo said Patterson didn’t get frustrated.

“Communication and defense,” said the veteran guard. “Offense win games, defense win games. This was like a state championship and defense was there.”

“We got some good defensive possessions, made some shots,” said Martin, “and Poly started caving in.”

Ali led Poly with 16 points and Murray added 14. The Engineers, who won the Division I city title last season, will need a Patterson collapse to get back to the city title game.

Gerard Mungo (left) hit a huge 3-pointer late in overtime for Patterson while Zac Blackwell forced overtime with two free throws late in regulation for Patterson. The victory gives the No. 4 Clippers the inside track for a spot in next month’s city championship game.

That’s just as unlikely as what happened to the Engineers late in regulation Tuesday.

“We took our foot off the gas a little early, thought the game was won when it wasn’t,” said Poly coach Sam Brand, whose team missed 13 free throws, and went 7-of-13 between the final period and overtime. “We couldn’t take the ball out of bounds down the stretch. We got to do a better job doing that, and the other part was the whole sidelines was littered with people. We dealt with it for three quarters then lost our composure in the end.”

Though Patterson controls its city final destiny, it has several huge tests on the horizon including Illinois 3A state champ Morgan State at the Charm City/Windy City Challenge at St. Frances Saturday and a match with Lake Clifton in a potential city final preview Tuesday.

“We got a long way to go,” said Martin.

No. 4 Patterson 67, No. 3 Poly 64 (OT)

Poly – Ali 16, Murray 15, Lewis 14, Lindsey 6, Walker 6, Wallace 5, Lamothe 2. Totals 22 13-26 64.

Patterson – Mungo 18, Price 18, Blackwell 14, T. Thomas 8, Willis 7, Noble 2. Totals 22 18-26 67.

Poly 13 18 18 8 7 – 64

Patterson 6 17 13 21 10 – 67