The wait ended for Dunbar High and Forest Park boys’ basketball teams Tuesday evening, claiming Baltimore City championships Tuesday evening at Morgan State University’s Hill Field House.
The No. 8 Foresters defeated Southwestern, 68-61, for the Division 2 crown while the fifth-ranked Poets denied No. 2 Patterson a second straight Division 1 title with a 65-61 decision in front of an estimated audience of 2,800.
After losing in the Division 2 finals a year ago thanks to late turnovers and shoddy free throw shooting, Forest Park closed out the Sabres to complete a perfect divisional run. Senior guard/forward DeAnthony McCormick had a game-high 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Foresters .
“Everybody came to play today,” said McCormick, 6-foot-3. “None of my teammates let me down today.”
McCormick refused to let Forest Park fade after Southwestern cut a 15-point deficit down a point midway in the final quarter. He found Teion James for a three-pointer, giving Foresters a 57-52 lead with 2 minutes, 42 seconds to play.
McCormick answered a three-pointer by Sabres junior guard Juwuan Harrell with a basket for a 60-55 advantage. Southwestern (19-4) was within three at 60-57, but McCormick hit a free throw then followed with the assist on a basket by Rysheed Corbin.
“He missed some free throws in crunch time in this game and he had all summer, fall and winter to think about it,” said Forest Park coach Greate White. “He had the opportunity to redeem himself. He did everything today; three-point plays, three-point shots, mid-range shots, rebounding inside, whatever.”
For the first time since 2004, Dunbar is city champs. The Poets’ victory over Patterson was far from perfect, but the east Baltimore school was good enough to beat the Clippers for the second time this winter.
Senior guard Roderick Harrison scored 18 points including five first-half three pointers for Dunbar (18-3), and Evan Singletary contributed 16. Aquille Carr led all scorers with 24 points for Patterson (15-7).
The Orleans Street school went back to the game plan that produced a 64-55 victory last month: experienced backcourt play and tough defense. The Poets, who leaped to No. 1 for two weeks, have been inconsistent since, but coach Diego Jones said his team has remained resilient.
“All season, we’ve been playing as a team and teamwork beats any team with talent,” said Jones. “I don’t think there was a game, win or lose, that we didn’t play together.”
The Poets were able to withstand a horrific four-of-14 performance from the free throw line in the final two minutes. Dunbar led 52-43 late in the third quarter before the Clippers climbed to 52-49 at the start of the final quarter.
The Poets stretched their lead to 60-53 after a free throw by Donte Pretlow with three minutes remaining. Patterson trailed 61-57 after a basket by Anthony Brown, but after Pretlow missed two free throws, the Clippers missed a jumper. Aaron Parham found Anthony Brown downcourt for a layup with 47 seconds left.
Carr brought to Patterson to 63-59 with a basket with 37.5 seconds remaining. The Clippers, whose 2011 City title, was their first league championship since 1976, got no closer despite Dunbar’s shaky free throw shooting.
With the City title in their possession, the Poets turn their attention to defending their Class 1A state championship. Dunbar is again the No. 1 seed in the South Region as it seeks a third consecutive title.
“Our goal was never to go undefeated, our goals were win the city championship and state championship,” said Jones, whose team started 13-0. “We just won the city and now we want to use the momentum to win a state championship.”
“We lost of three of five [games], but the important thing, we came back strong and didn’t put our head down,” said Harrison. “We fought back and now we’re here, city champs.”
Baltimore City boys’ basketball championship
At Morgan State University
Division 2 finals
No. 8 Forest Park 68, Southwestern 61
Southwestern: McDowell 15, Harrell, 13, Miller 13, Hood 5, Watson 4, Fields 6, Divers 5. Totals: 21 14-24 61.
Forest Park: McCormick 33, Waters 11, Corbin 5, Hill 6, Hailey 6, James 5, Bennett 2. Totals: 21 23-36 68.
Southwestern 5 16 15 25-61
Forest Park 18 12 12 26-68
Division 1 finals
No. 5 Dunbar 65, No. 2 Patterson 61
Patterson: Brown 4, Hebron 14, Carr 24 , Manns 4, Lee-Fowlkes 11, Livingston 4. Totals: 23 14-22 61.
Dunbar: Parham 13, Harrison 18, Singletary 16, Pretlow 10, Brown 2, Pettiford 2, Young 4. Totals: 20 20-36 65.
Patterson 14 16 17 14-61
Dunbar 17 17 18 13-65