BERLIN- After an opening round rout and two tense overtime victories, the Stephen Decatur boys’ varsity basketball team last weekend won the state Class 3A-East Region championship and earned to trip to the Final Four at the Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland.
Top-seeded Decatur cruised past visiting Howard, 71-47, in its first game of the tournament, but the sledding got a little rougher after that. In the region semifinal last Thursday, the Seahawks edged Mt. Hebron, 48-42, in a thriller at home. On Saturday, Decatur claimed the Class 3A-East Region title with another overtime win, this time over six-seeded Atholton.
In the opening round win over Howard, the Seahawks struggled a little early and trailed halfway through the first quarter before turning it on and pulling away. Decatur led by 20 at the half and never looked back as it cruised to the 71-47 win. The victory advanced the Seahawks to a second-round match-up with fourth-seeded Mt. Hebron last Thursday.
Against Hebron the region semifinal, Decatur led early before faltering somewhat offensively. The Seahawks jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but scored only two more points in the first quarter. Decatur relinquished its early lead, but regained it late in the second quarter, taking a 15-13 lead into the half in a low scoring game.
Both teams traded baskets in the second half with neither gaining any real separation on the scoreboard. Decatur trailed late in the fourth quarter but tied the game with under a minute remaining. Seahawks Cedrick Johnson, who picked up his team time and time again in the playoffs, got a decent look as time expired, but the shot rolled off the rim and regulation ended with both teams tied at 37-37.
In the extra period, Johnson scored six points to lead Decatur to the 48-42 overtime win. Johnson finished the game with a team-high 22 points.
The win propelled Decatur into the regional championship game for the first time in recent memory. The Seahawks got a little help on the other side of the bracket when the number two and three seeds fell in the early rounds, setting up a match-up with sixth-seeded Atholton, but the regional title game was anything but easy.
Decatur trailed through much of the first half and went into the intermission trailing 27-21 in yet another low-scoring game. In the third quarter, Decatur began plugging away at the Atholton lead. Johnson hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter and Mark Engle scored on the first possession of the fourth quarter to give the Seahawks the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
However, Atholton did not cave under the pressure of the Seahawk defense and a boisterous Decatur home crowd and the game was tied at the end of regulation, forcing a second overtime for the Seahawks in as many games in the post season. In the extra session, Montre Adams scored on Decatur’s first possession and Engle added a three-pointer seconds later as the Seahawks took control and cruised to the 64-55 overtime win.
The victory clinched the Class 3A-East region championship for the Seahawks one year removed from a season during which they won just seven games. The dramatic region title win also earned Decatur a trip to the state Class 3A Final Four, which got underway last night in a game played too late to be included in this edition.
The Seahawks were slated to play the Milford Mill Academy of Baltimore County in the state semifinals last night at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park. Milford Mill, the top seed in the Class 3A-North region, now has a record of 23-3 after running the table in its region tournament. Lurking on the other side of the state Final Four is 3A-West region winner Blake and 3A-South region winner Thomas Stone.