2016-2017 BALTIMORE CITY DIVISION II BOYS’ BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS
NATIONAL ACADEMY FOUNDATION EAGLES
This time, Patterson High didn’t let it slip away.
The fourth-ranked Clippers defeated No. 2 Poly, 42-40, in the Baltimore City Division I boys’ basketball championship game, in front of nearly 2,000 at Coppin State University. National Academy Foundation made history, winning the Division II title with a 44 35 victory over New Era Academy.
Junior forward Antoine Matthews finished with a game-high 17 points for National Academy (9-6 overall). Tra’Quan Bradley led New Era (11-11) with 13 points, and junior Khalih Williams added 12.
National Academy scored the game’s final 11 points to deny New Era a second straight title. It’s the first title in any sport for National Academy Foundation, which is located inside the old Dunbar Middle School building in east Baltimore.
In a three-way tie for second in the final Division II standings, National Academy advanced on a tiebreaker based on victories over Division I programs City College and Mervo. The Eagles defeated former city champ City in the season opener.
“It started from that game. We have some talent but really didn’t have basketball IQ,” said National Academy Foundation coach John McCoy. “That game was the key to get understanding how to play the game, not just put the ball into the basket.”
The Eagles’ defense helped author the historic moment, holding the Jaguars scoreless over the final 3 minutes and 58 seconds of regulation. The biggest play came from center Chris Barnett, who rejected a Bradley shot and Matthew Bowles got the loose ball and took it in for a layup, putting National Academy Foundation up, 37-35.
The block atoned for his technical foul that helped New Era gained the lead late in the third. Barnett scored two points Saturday.
“The coaches were preaching defense, defense. In my mind, I wasn’t worried about scoring, it’s a team effort,” said Barnett, 6-foot-6.”The only thing I wanted was a championship.”
National Academy Foundation led 20-17 at halftime, but New Era, behind three straights baskets from Williams put the south Baltimore school in front. The Eagles recovered and went back ahead 28-25 before Barnett was given a technical with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
Lawrence Briscoe converted one technical free throw and dropped a 3-pointer, putting the Jaguars back up. New Era led 35-33 after 15 basket with less than four minutes left in regulation.
It was the last score Saturday for the Cherry Hill school, which defeated Benjamin Franklin in last year’s city title game. The Jaguars defeated National Academy Foundation during the regular season.
“We didn’t play team ball. We didn’t play the style we normally play and it showed,” said New Era coach Jimmy Little. “It’s easy to get out of sorts in a championship game and our leaders didn’t take charge on the court.”
National Academy, which was moved from Digital Harbor to Dunbar Middle (located behind on Dunbar High) in 2010, doesn’t have a home gym. McCoy credited assistant coach Dewayne Washington for guiding offseason conditioning and building team unity.
Last summer, National Academy played in the Craig Cromwell Summer League at “The Dome” at Madison Square Rec Center in east Baltimore.
“We stuck together through hard times. Everybody didn’t like each other,” said Eagles senior guard Montaz Wright. “You got to trust your team.”
“There’s been a lot of adversity we’ve been fighting through and to manage to this point and seeing this championship is very heart warming,” said McCoy, “but we’re not done.”
2016-2017 BALTIMORE CITY DIVISION I BOYS’ BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS
In moments following the Division I awards ceremony late Saturday evening, Christon Adams stood under a basket with the championship plaque in his burly arms. In his first three years on Patterson’s varsity, Adams was part of teams that were long on talent, but short on results.
It’s been a much different journey this season for Adams and the Clippers, who claimed their first city title since 2011. Sophomore wing Marvin Price scored a game-high 20 points for Patterson (20-3), and sophomore guard Gerard Mungo added 10.
In another city league bump and grinder, the Kane Street school avenged a 54-51 overtime loss to Poly (16-7) a couple of weeks at Augie Waibel Gym. The then-No. 1 Clippers were undone by poor free throw shooting.
They shoot poorly from the charity stripe (11 for 23) in the rematch Saturday and also drew a technical foul in the decisive final quarter, helping Poly claimed the lead. But the Clippers were able to hold the Engineers without a field goal for the last seven minutes, including a stand in the final seconds to end Poly’s term as city champs.
“It was a scrappy one, but that’s our type of game,” said Adams, a 6-foot-3 forward. “We’re a defensive team first. We’re going to score and put up points, but to play D like that, it was exciting.”
“We knew it was going to be a low scoring game and every possession counted,” said Patterson coach Harry Martin.
Arguably the biggest came late in the fourth when Poly’s 2 missed a jumper and Price grabbed the defensive rebound. He sent a downcourt pass to Daesean Jones.
Jones went up to lay the ball off of the glass, but Poly’s DeVondre Perry came from behind and slapped the ball off the backboard. The ball went through the hands of a trailing Adams, but teammate Byron Easter picked up the ball, went up and put the ball back in over Perry, giving Patterson a 41-40 advantage with 2 minutes, 7 seconds left in regulation.
Patterson regained possession as Adams captured a loose ball after a Poly miss. After two timeouts, sandwiched between the Clippers running clock, Adams was fouled with 42.5 seconds remaining.
Adams missed both double free throws and Poly gained possession. Price blocked a Seth Jones’ attempt out of bounds with 23.8 seconds to play. The Engineers threw an inbounds pass too high for Perry, and Daesean Jones got the ball for Patterson with about 21 seconds left.
Clemons was fouled with 16.4 seconds remaining, and converted the back end of the double bonus free throws for a 42-40 Clipper advantage. Poly called timeout with 9.3 seconds to play.
Engineer freshman guard Raheem Ali drove into lane and sent a pass to Jones in the corner. Jones released a shot that Mungo got a fingertip on, and the ball short of the basket.
Thornton got the loose ball, but lost it as he attempted to go up. Price secured the ball and the final couple of seconds ran off, and Patterson celebrated at midcourt.
“We just fixed the little things,” said Price, a Baltimore native who played for District region private powerhouse DeMatha Catholic last season. “That was the difference.”
The Clippers also slowed down Perry, who dominated them in overtime a couple of weeks. The 6-foot-6 Temple University commit scored only 11 points Saturday, but was a force defensively with three blocks in the final period.
Patterson, which wasted an early double-digit lead in the first meeting, led 23-18 at halftime Saturday. The Clippers opened up a 28-19 advantage in the third quarter after a drive by Mungo.
Poly pulled even at 33 late in the third, but two Mungo free throws and jumper from Price regained the lead for Patterson entering the final eight minutes. The Clippers were up 39-36 when Price drew a technical foul with 5:15 left in regulation.
Perry, who was fouled before Price’s technical, hit the one-and-one free throws followed with the two technical attempts, giving Poly a 40-39 lead. The Engineers didn’t score again as Ali’s basket with 7:08 to play accounted for their lone field goal.
Poly watched dejectedly as Patterson received the city title plaque. A year ago, the Engineers claimed their first city title after decades of irrelevance.
This season, Poly played a rigorous non-league schedule to help prepare for city league play. The Engineers, whose nine-game win streak was snapped Saturday, lost for the first time in 22 Division I decisions, dating back to last season.
“The effort was there, the execution wasn’t,” said Poly coach Sam Brand. “We didn’t execute down the stretch and didn’t give Dre [De’Vondre Perry] the ball. They [Patterson] have a tough group of guys. To hold us to 40 points twice (in regulation), that’s a heck of a job.”
Patterson, which lost in the 2015 city title game to Lake Clifton, has had success this season with a young nucleus featuring Mungo (transfer from St. Frances), Jones, Price and Easter (all sophomores). The Clippers have only four seniors with Harrison Brandon, G’Waun Williams, Clemons and Adams.
“Sometimes it’s easier winning a state championship than a city championship so we’re very proud of this,” said Martin. “We break the season into four seasons, season one is the regular season, season two is the city championship, season three is the region playoffs and the University of Maryland is season four. So we’re moving on to season three.”
Baltimore City boys’ basketball championship
at Coppin State
National Academy Foundation 44, New Era Academy 35
National Academy Foundation – Barnett 2, Wright 7, Matthews 17, Diaz 6, Colclough 3, Bowles 9. Totals 20 4-11 44.
New Era -Stackleford 2, Briscoe 4, Williams 12, Bradley 13, Wilson 4. Totals 14 4-8 35.
National Academy 8 12 10 14 – 44
New Era 13 4 12 6 – 35
No. 4 Patterson 42, No. 2 Poly 40
Patterson – Price 20, Mungo 10, Adams 5, Clemons 3, Jones 2, Easter 2. Totals 15 11-23 42.
Poly – Perry 11, Mims 9, Ali 7, Mosley 1, Walker 2, Stephens 8, Horton 2. Totals 9 21-31 40.
Patterson 8 15 14 5 – 42
Poly 8 10 15 7 – 40