To say Douglass High’s gym was a little warm for Wednesday’s Class 3A North Region boys’ basketball semifinal was like saying the Baltimore area received a dusting of snow in January.
“We came upstairs and my brother said it’s hot like an Easy Bake oven,” said Woodlawn’s Deontay Marshall.
The No. 13 Warriors were able to adjust to the conditions and continue their postseason surge, winning 67-57 over 20th-ranked Douglass in west Baltimore. Senior guard Wayne Massey scored 18 points for Woodlawn (20-3 overall), with Marshall adding 12.
The Baltimore County school pulled away in the final eight minutes, advancing to Friday’s region title game against C. Milton Wright. The defending region champ and 11th-ranked Mustangs defeated Dundalk in the other region semifinal contest in Harford County Wednesday evening.
After upsetting top-ranked and Baltimore City Division I champ Poly, Woodlawn led by as many as 16 points against city Division II champ Douglass. Warriors coach Bobby Richardson said his team followed the mantra of March basketball.
Win and survive.
“Found a way to get it done. It was rugged at times,” said Richardson. “They [Douglass] fed off their fans’ energy and we responded. We answered the call everytime.”
Massey, who played a key role in Woodlawn’s victory Monday, provided the answer after Douglass charged back to within four. He cleanly picked Douglass guard Donnell Ratchford, scored and was fouled, putting the Warriors up 55-47, with 6 minutes, 12 seconds left in regulation.
“We had to tuned them out and play Woodlawn basketball,” said Massey, who rested the third quarter inside the Ducks’ gym where a huge fan blew in the corner trying to alleviate the humid conditions.
Douglass pulled to within 57-51, but a Marshall free throw and score in the paint from Rashard Rice extended Woodlawn’s advantage to 60-51. Rice scored six of his 10 points in the final frame.
The senior said the Warriors amped their defense.
“We had to play tough defense, stop letting them get easy three-point shots,” said Rice. “Put a hand up and make it tough for them.”
The Warriors used a 20-7 run with Massey scoring seven of his team’s final nine points for a 36-27 halftime. They owned a 45-29 advantage midway in the third, but Douglass rallied behind Shandon Adams.
The sophomore scored 13 points in third, including three three-pointers, bringing the Gwynns Falls Parkway school within 51-47 entering the fourth. Two free throws from Rice and Massey’s pick and score stymied the Ducks’ momentum.
Douglass got no closer than six, ending its best season in several seasons. The Ducks (21-2) won their first title since 2004 (Class 3A state title) and knocked off perennial Division I stronghold City College in Monday’s quarterfinals.
“We went down a little too much. We cut it to four, missed a few chip shots and they played good defense,” said Douglass coach Sylvester Banks, who said he won’t be returning as coach next season. “They made their shots at the end.”
Despite Monday’s huge win over Poly, Warriors haven’t lost focus and now are a win away from the state final four. Woodlawn last reached College Park in 2004.
“At the beginning of the year, we may not have been the best team in the Top 20 and I’m not saying we are now, said Richardson. “We want to be the hardest working team, value each possession and be the smartest.”
“If we play defense, take good shots and believe in our coaches, we can get a W over anybody they put in front of us,” said Marshall.
Class 3A North Region playoffs
Section I final
No. 13 Woodlawn 67, No. 20 Douglass 57
Woodlawn – Rice 10, Massey 18, Fulton 2, Marshall 12, Robinson 4, Gannon 8, Redd 2, Lane 11. Totals 25 12-20 67.
Douglass – Davis 5, Atkins 3, Ratchford 11, Jones 1, Moore 2, Holloway 7, Adams 15, Turner 3, Daniels 10. Totals 21 9-15 57.
Woodlawn 14 22 15 16 – 67
Douglass 15 12 20 10 – 57