COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND -- Junior point guard Brandon Giles came off the bench to lead Magruder High from Fort Washington, MD, to a 67-63 overtime win over Glen Burnie HS in the toughest battle of Thursday's Maryland State championship semifinals.
The Colonels will face Oxon Hill HS for the Class 4A title Saturday at 8 p.m. again at the Comcast Center on Maryland's campus. The full name of the school is Colonel Zadok Magruder High School; Col. Magruder was a Revolutionary War patriot and farmer, a fitting appellation for a school in the suburbs of our nation's capitol.
Giles, a 5-9, 130 pound lead guard, scored a game high 25 points along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior guard Mitch Guest, at 5-9, 170 pounds, led the Gophers with 23 points, a team-high nine rebounds and five assists.
Glen Burnie, unranked until this week, entered the game at #11 in the Washington Post poll after upending previously unbeated Thomas Johnson in the East Regional final. They again were perceived by most as the underdog in this contest. After all #5 Magruder was ranked by the Post throughout the season, started the season in the Morgan Wootten Invitational and was riding a 10-game winning streak.
But Glen Burnie Coach Mitchell Rudd didn't look at it that way. "We've gone into every game expecting to win," he said. The Gophers were 9-1 over the last 10 contests, the only loss an 81-78 defeat in overtime to Old Mill High School in the final regular season match.
After a tight 8-7 first quarter which demonstrated why both teams are known for excellent defense, Magruder extended the lead to 16-11 on a traditional three point play by 6-2 senior Richard Smith with 5:10 left in the half. Guest got the Gophers back to within one (16-15) on a layup off an inbounds pass under the basket, a set play that Coach Rudd's squad would repeat later in the game. A baseline drive by 6-5 senior Jeremy Kincaid capped a 9-2 run which extended Magruder's lead to 25-17 at the break. Guest had 11 of the Gophers' 17 points while Magruder's scoring attack was distributed more evenly. Both coaches substituted freely, a gameplan that became essential when an additional four minutes were needed to decide the winner. Giles noted, "We were tight early but were able to get our game going after halftime. Glen Burnie was a really tough opponent."
Both teams kicked the game up a double Emeril notch at the start the second half. Glen Burnie completely erased the deficit when Guest stole the rebound of his own missed shot for his third straight layup to tie the contest at 29 with 4:18 on the clock. Brandon Albert, a 6-7, 330 pound center, got a second chance for a put back to give GBHS the lead at 33-31. Junior guard Jeff Leiter canned a three to restore Magruder to the lead at 34-33. With time winding down in the quarter, Guest calmy dribbled at the top of the key, then stepped back and hit a LONG distance three as the buzzer sounded giving Glen Burnie a 36-34 lead going into the fourth period.
Glen Burnie extended the lead to 40-34 before senior Pedro Argueta's three got the Colonels to within one at 42-41 with 4:06 left in the game. Albert drove to the basket for a three point play to stretch the lead back to 45-41. Smith hit two free throws but GB responded when 6-4 senior Tony Sherrod hit a stop jumper to get the four-point lead again at 47-43.
The Gophers took some air out of the ball to which Magruder responded by using multiple defenders on Guest. Magruder got the ball with just 38.6 seconds left. Giles' jump shot was blocked by 5-11 sophomore Mike Newton only to see it fall toward MHS teammate 6-6 junior Kevin Roach who was fouled in the scramble. Roach made the first to bring the deficit to one at 51-50. He missed the potentially tieing second attempt but the long rebound was snatched by Leiter who was fouled in another scrum with 26.2 seconds left in regulation. Leiter canned both attempts to put MHS back on top, 52-51. Guest was fouled before Glen Burnie inbounded the ball. His first shot rolled in to tie the score at 52-52. Magruder quickly called a full time out before the second attempt could be made. This "icing" tactic worked this time as Guest's attempt bounded off. Giles lost the ball as he was running a play as time ticked away to necessitate the second overtime contest in a row. (Chopticon beat Randallstown 73-70 in overtime in the second game of the day.)
The teams exchanged field goals until Argueta's three-pointer gave Magruder the lead at 57-56. Smith hit one of two free throws putting the Colonels up two, 58-56 at 2:35 of the extra period. Fouled on a defensive rebound 18 seconds later, Smith again hit one of two charity tosses to ratchet the lead to 59-56. The Gophers cut the lead to 59-58 on a Guest to Albert spinning layup. Fighting for a lose ball, Newton was called for a foul, his fifth, which put Giles on the line. Coach Rudd called a timeout before Giles was given the ball but no "icing" this time as the junior calmly sank both to extend the lead to 61-58. The Colonels now slowed the pace following a missed three-point attempt by Guest. Glen Burnie stuck to pressure defense until the last minute started to tick off. Smith again was sent to the line and sank both attempts to up Magruder's lead to 63-58 with 53.5 seconds remaining in the overtime.
With the score 66-60, Guest was obviously the go-to-guy and while heavily guarded, created enough space to sink a three to tighten the score, 66-63. Giles made one of two free throws to close the scoring and seal Magruder's 67-63 win.
Smith added 11 points and a game high 10 rebounds while Agrueta also sank 11 for the Colonels. Albert tallied 20 points and five rebounds, all on the offensive end of the court, for the Gophers. Newton added 11 points, two assists and two steals.
Coach Dan Harwood after the game praised the Glen Burnie defense. "They made it very difficult for our players other than Brandon to get their shots," he said. "Guest is very athletic. We eventually put 6-3 Richard Smith on him. Didn't stop stop him though"
In the last minute, GBHS controled the boards, got good shots (which didn't fall) and got to the line (but was able to make just 2-of-6 attempts). "I don't know if I'll ever have a group this special," an emotional Coach Rudd said. "I'm extremely proud of our team. Tonight the shots didn't drop; they had against Thomas Johnson."