COLLEGE PARK — Harford Tech came out of the gates fearlessly, knowing that in their first final four berth in program history they had to play loose, but with energy. It was the mindset of not having anything to lose while feeling there was no pressure on them that allowed the Cobras to start the game so well.
It was all for naught, though, as Marvin Price and No. 7 Patterson outlasted the passionate play of Harford Tech, 69-49, behind huge performances in the second half from Price (24 points) and 13-point performances from Christion Adams and Gerard Mongo.
“I think we had more experience,” Adams said. “They came out all fiery, but I think at the time we stopped it and played basketball.
In the first half, Harford Tech came out exactly as they wanted. Behind the play of jitterbug point guard Darius Dangerfield (game-high 26 points) and the sharpshooting of Dominic Webb (10 points), the Cobras caught the Clippers napping and jumped out to a 15-12 first quarter lead. Dangerfield, in particular, was gaining more and more bravado as his shot continued to fall. After a 3-pointer that made the score 10-8 going Tech’s way, Dangerfield turned and shared some words with Gerard Mungo, who was defending him that possession. Immediately afterward, Price and Mungo came down and responded with their own layups to end the quarter at 15-12.
“We weren’t scared of this game,” Harford Tech coach Bill Jones said. “When we saw who we’re gonna play, the boys got excited. They wanted this challenge.”
The Clippers started to play their game in their second quarter. Utilizing their size and strength, Patterson retook the lead on a 9-2 run highlighted by a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer that gave back his squad a 26-24 lead it wouldn’t lose.
The Clippers only allowed 20 points in the second half, in large part to them wearing down Tech possession by possession despite the conditioning that Tech went through since prepping to play at a faster pace.
“It’s definitely bigger,” Jones said on playing on a college-sized basketball court. “I just think the second half, I kept the starters in a little longer. I think it might’ve been the size of them as well. It was hard for us to guard him (Barnes). Every time we tried to guard him It seemed like our guys would get thrown back but not in a bad way.”
In the second half, it was much more of the same between the Clippers and Cobras. Thanks to a renewed defensive effort to stop Dangerfield and Dominic Webb, Patterson stifled Harford Tech the rest of the way.
“I didn’t think the other three guys they had on the court could really hurt us to much,” Martin said on his defensive strategy. “I knew that (Dangerfield) and (Webb) if we could stop them we would be in good shape.”
During a 5-0 burst, the Cobras were able to close the deficit thanks to a Jawaun Lucas steal-and-layup that made the score 40-37. That was as close as Harford Tech would get the rest of the game, as Patterson would go on a 12-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarter that would effectively shut the lid on any comeback big Tech thought it could muster.
For Harford Tech, despite the disappointing loss, there is still a glimmer of hope for the future. A culture has already been set in place and according to Jones his players were already talking about weightlifting sessions when they come back to school next Monday.
“It’s now cool to go to Harford Tech and play basketball hereJones said ” Before it was everywhere else in Harford County. But now these guys are making it cool when we come back next year it will be even cooler”