Lamonte Wade and Tanner Brooks combined for 42 points to lead St. Pauls to an exciting 52-50 win over a gutsy Boys’ Latin team in the first round of the MIAA B Conference basketball playoffs, in Brooklandville on Wednesday night.
St. Paul’s, the third seed, advances to Friday’s semifinals. The Crusaders will travel to second-seeded St. Vincent Pallotti to battle for a slot in Sunday’s championship game at UMBC (1:00 p.m.).
The sixth-seeded Lakers held a 25-18 lead at the half, and they maintained a four-point advantage (40-36) at the end of three before the Crusaders staged a dramatic fourth quarter rally.
Wade had 10 fourth quarter points and Brooks added five. Wade tied the game at 43-43 with 5:48 left and Brooks put his team ahead when he made a driving layup with five minutes to go.
The Lakers stayed within striking distance to the very end and Casey Rees had a chance to tie the contest, with two seconds left, but could not get the shot to fall.
Rees had six key points in the fourth quarter and Colin Heacock, who led the Lakers with 18, added four. Heacock helped the Lakers take a seven-point lead at the half with 11 points in the first sixteen minutes. Freshman Devin Shewell had seven points in the first half for the Lakers, and he finished with 12.
Wade had 18 points for coach Seth Goldberg in the second half.
“Our seniors played like seniors tonight,” said Goldberg. “It’s a great group of guys.”
Goldberg had high praise for Lakers’ first year coach Cliff Rees.
“I give Cliff Rees a ton of credit. What he’s donE with that program is just incredible,” said Goldberg. “His kids play hard, and they play the right way. They gave us everything we could handle.”
Rees said he would love to take credit for the effort, but said it’s the kids.
“They worked hard from day one. That’s the effort we’ve given all year long. They’re great kids. God bless them.”
Wade praised the Lakers too. “It was a great (BL) effort. They never gave up. We knew we had to step it up, and we fought throughout.”
Brooks said that the Lakers were knocking their shots down, and he knew his team had to come out fast in the second half.
“Coach told us that we needed to step it up; we weren’t playing our best, and we knew we could do better,” said Brooks.
Brooks hit three three-pointers from NBA range in the second half, and he had four on the night.
Heacock said that St. Pauls is a great team. “We came out strong in the beginning; it was close throughout the whole game. We had seniors like Matt Rees pushing us the whole season.”
Each team pulled down 18 rebounds in the evenly matched battle. The Lakers shot 64% from the floor (18-for-28), and the Crusaders hit 54% (20-for-37).