It may have taken 12 months longer than expected, but the Patterson boys basketball team can finally call itself a state champion.
After adding some integral pieces to an already strong core, the No. 2 Clippers were able to finish what they started one year earlier. Patterson overcame a nine-point, halftime deficit to beat Thomas Stone of Charles County, 86 -75, for the Class 3A state championship at the Comcast Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Clippers fell to North Point, also from Charles County, in last season’s Class 4A state title game and had to wait for redemption.
“When I lost it last year, I knew that I was going to come back [to the championship],” guard Aquille Carr said. “I dedicated my whole season to coming back here. I worked harder than the next person to try and get it down. I got players to come over and help me get it done.”
Carr led the way with 28 points and eight assists for the Clippers, which ended their season with a 21-7 record. Devin Hebron finished with 23 points – all coming in the second half – and had seven boards. Shakir Brown added 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Leonard Livingston contributed eight points and 11 blocked shots.
In the post-game interview, Carr reflected on how far he had come in the last year.
“I think I sat right here in this same chair and cried,” he said. “It feels great to know that I don’t have to cry now. It didn’t hit me yet but I know that we worked hard and deserved it.”
The night started off on a good note for Patterson as it jumped out to an 11-point lead late in the first quarter, but mounting foul trouble turned the tide.
Carr picked up his third foul at the 2:31 mark of the second quarter with his team ahead 34-31. While Carr watched from the bench, the Cougars closed the half on a 12-0 run to take a 43-34 advantage into halftime.
“In the beginning, we got the pace that we wanted and built it up to an 11-point lead,” Patterson coach Harry Martin said. “I told myself before the game that if we got that [lead], we would go to a zone because I didn’t think that they were a real good shooting team. But we kept going at the pace and that pace, over the course of time is going to wear both teams down. That was really my fault.”
In the second half, Hebron put the Clippers on his back.
The Franklin-transfer scored seven points in a 9-0 run that brought Patterson to within 45-43 early in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets but the East Baltimore school could not reclaim the lead after twice drawing to within one point.
A put-back in the paint by Emeka Mbakwe gave Thomas Stone a 60-54 lead with less than one minute to play in the quarter.
Hebron responded again with a 3-pointer and a layup to give the Clippers a 61-60 lead entering the final quarter.
“During halftime, my coach just said that we had to step up,” Hebron said. “I felt like Aquille was out there struggling by himself, similar to how it was last year, and I was watching that [game] last night. I felt that I had to take the initiative to step up.”
The Cougars regained the lead however, when Carr picked up his fourth foul in the opening seconds of the fourth. While out, Stone hit two free throws and added a layup to take a 64-61 lead.
Carr immediately returned to the game with seven minutes left.
“They went on a 4-0 run and at that point, I didn’t want it to get away from us,” Martin said. “[Aquille] has played with foul trouble before. He shouldn’t have picked up that fourth foul…so I got on him about that. But with your top players, you have to give them that rope and some discretion on their own.”
Carr didn’t disappoint.
He assisted on another Hebron 3-pointer and added a layup himself that gave Patterson a 68-64 lead with 4:58 remaining in the game. The Clippers would not lose the lead again.
Brown got credit for a tip-in, Carr made two free throws, then threw a perfect pass to Livingston for an alley-oop dunk to push the lead to seven points.
Stone stayed within striking distance but Patterson made its free throws down the stretch to seal the win. The Clippers earned the program’s first state crown and became the sixth Baltimore City school to win a boys basketball title.
“We’re apart of school history now,” Carr said. “After we graduate, we can remember that we brought a state championship to Patterson High School.”
Class 3A State Finals
No. 2 Patterson 86, Thomas Stone 75
Carr 28, Brown 18, Lee-Fowlkes 6, Livingston 8, Hebron 23, Manns 2, Oliver 1. Totals 30 21-30 86.
Chisley 6, Mbakwe 18, Elliott 14, Briscoe 15, Aderinkola 5, Stewart 10, Mainor 7.Totals 27 20-30 75.