COLLEGE PARK — As soon as the celebration subsided, Patterson finally took a minute to soak it all in. The Baltimore City high school just won its second state title since 2012 and cemented themselves as not one of the best teams in Baltimore, but the DMV as well with its latest accomplishment.
In its fifth trip to the state playoffs in the last seven years, No. 7 Patterson outlasted No. 20 Century, 49-43, led by the spectacular play of Gerard Mungo (game-high 19 points) and the double-double of Christion Adams (13 points, 10 rebounds).
In a move that surprised many, Patterson beat Century playing almost exclusively in the half-court. The Clippers average 65.9 points a game, but went against its status quo, relying on Mungo as well as Adams to score and dictate the tempo throughout the title game. Adams established himself early and frequently during the first half. He scored eight points in the first quarter, including scoring on a nifty pass from Marvin Price (12 points) that made it 4-0, Patterson, in the early going of the first quarter.
“We was shooting around today and all my coaches said I had to make myself known, and have a big game and make them feel my presence,” Adams said of his performance. “We like the matchup they put on me, so I had to establish my ability.”
The resilient Knights countered with the solid play of Zach Tucker (team-high 16 points), who scored five points along with dishing out a dime to forward Chris Norman for a layup that tied the game at 10-10. Norman (12 points) had a tremendous game himself, taking over in the second quarter to score all eight of Century’s points while also playing tough defense. He dislodged the ball out of Harrison Brandon’s grasp, who was rumbling down the court for a layup on a 3-on-2 fastbreak that kept the score at 19-17 in the second quarter.
The second period was a slugfest, with hardly any flow to the game. Patterson scored just eight points, and Century scoring just four. In the closing seconds of the first quarter, with the score 18-13, still in favor of Patterson, the Clippers held the ball for the final minute of the opening frame, which halted the flow of the game. They did the same at the end of second, capitalizing on having no shot clock.
“We just thought we matched up better if they had to extend their man to man,” said head coach Harry Martin. “I mean it’s apart of the rules. Whether we like it or not it’s part of the rules. [Quince Orchard] did it the other night against Wise. So my thing is to hold it, force them to spread it a little bit more and I think they had a hard time covering us.”
In the third quarter, the offense was hard to come by again. Neither team scored until the five minute mark minutes after a Daesean Jones midrange jumper gave Patterson a 24-21 lead. The Clippers continued to play keep-away until Ashley Roberts hit a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game midway through the third quarter. Roberts then hit another 3 that knotted the game at 27-all. Tucker subsequently gave Century its last lead, 29-27, when he hit two free throws. The Clippers went on a 5-0 run to retake the lead, 32-29, led by a sudden five-point outburst by Mungo.
“Our best player on our team, Marvin Price, he wasn’t in the game for us,” Mungo said. “So I knew had to just take over and get everyone involved.”
Heading into the final frame, Century was looking for a miracle from Tucker. That miracle never came as he was clearly worn down from the constant double teams and physical defense thrown at him by the Clippers. He did score eight points in the pivotal quarter but didn’t get much help from anyone else.
“It was really about wearing him down,” Martin said about the game plan to slow down Tucker.
“We thought last night with [Century] playing up and down the whole game against Central, and him controlling the ball maybe 90 percent of the time, that we would send double teams at him and really chase him all up and down the court and [wear] him out, and I think we did that toward the end.”
Century got as close as 43-38 late in the game after a Tucker layup, but every time the Knights scored, the Clippers responded. As the fourth quarter was winding down, the final free throws were entrusted to Mungo, who again as a sophomore point guard showed poise in cementing the state title win at the line.
“I’m the point guard, so he expects me to go get the ball and finish those free throws,” Mungo said. “That’s why we went over it before we came here at shoot-around.”