Dundalk came out firing against Woodlawn in the Baltimore County boys basketball county championship game last week in the SECU Arena at Towson University.
The Owls were outstanding from long range, opening the game with four three-pointers and finishing the game with 13 three’s.
Unfortunately for Dundalk, the game was decided under the basket and at the foul line, leading to a 69-61 Woodlawn victory.
In a game decided by eight points, the Warriors attempted 23 free throws, making 15, while the Owls were six-for-12 from theline.
Woodlawn also had a 32-20 edge in rebounds. Dundalk had only six rebounds for the entire game.
“We didn’t attack the basket,” Dundalk coach Steve Oppenheim said. “We settled for the outside shot. We made 13 three-pointers, but that’s not our game.
“Since we were settling for the outside shot, we weren’t able to play our pressure defense, get them fouling, get to the line.”
The two squads shot almost the same from the floor, with Dundalk making 21 of 57 shots (37 percent) and Woodlawn hitting 22 of 55 shots (40 percent).
While the Warriors made eight three-pointers, must of their scoring came inside and from the foul line.
Fifteen of Woodlawn’s free-throw attempts came in the fourth quarter, but only six were in the final minute when the Owls were fouling to get the ball back.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, 50-36, Dundalk rallied to within five, 56-51, with 5:45 remaining in the game.
Michael Johnson had 11 of Dundalk’s 15 points during the run.
But Dundalk went scoreless on its next three possessions while Woodlawn was sent to the line seven times, making four, to extend its lead back to 60-51 with four minutes remaining.
A three-pointer by Jaylon Johnson made it a two-possession and it was 62-57 with 2:25 left to play after a free throw and a jumper from Tayquan Busby.
But a charging call cost the Owls a basket, followed by a critical turnover on a fast break, and the Owls entered the final minute of play still down 64-57.
The remainder of the scoring for both teams came at the foul line.
“The kids never gave up, every time it seemed like Woodlawn would pull away, we came back,” Oppenheim said. “The kids held their composure.
“They were getting more rebounds because we were shooting from the outisde too much. They weren’t out-rebounding us; the style of game we were playing just wasn’t conducive to rebounding.”
Michael Johnson finished with 21 points while hitting five three-pointers. Gates Cook scored 16, getting four three-pointers. Jaylon Johnson scored 14 points, also making four three-pointers.
Dundalk had early leads of 3-0, 6-4, 9-8 and 12-10. But after Woodlawn went ahead 13-12 with 3:38 left in the first quarter, the Owls never again held the lead.
The Warriors led 21-14 entering the second quarter. It was a one-point game over the last three quarters.
Woodlawn stretched its lead to 31-19 midway through the second quarter, but three-pointers by Cook and Jaylon Johnson kept Dundalk within 35-27 at halftime.
A 10-3 run in the third quarter gave the Warriors their 14-point lead before the Owls battled back.
It was the first appearance in the Baltimore County championship game for Dundalk, which could face Woodlawn a third time this season if both teams win their respective regional semifinal games on Wednesday.
That game would be Friday at Woodlawn, with higher stakes: the winner advancing to the Class 3A state semifinals at the University of Maryland.
“This was a good experience for our guys, the nicest venue they’ve ever played in,” Oppenheim said. “A college floor, under bright lights. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to play again in another nice venue.”
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