Stunning buzzer-beater sends Whitman boys to Md. 4A final

Stunning buzzer-beater sends Whitman boys to Md. 4A final

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 1

Will Shapiro had two jobs for the Whitman boys’ basketball team during Wednesday’s Maryland 4A semifinal at Montgomery Blair: play defense and hit open shots.

He did the first job admirably, hounding Richard Montgomery’s guards throughout. The second task proved more challenging for the sophomore guard. Through three quarters and 7 minutes 59.7 seconds, he was scoreless.

The sophomore got in the scoring column with one of the biggest shots in program history, making a three-pointer from the right arc to send the Vikings to a 67-66 win and secure a date against Frederick in the state final Saturday at Xfinity Center.

Before his buzzer-beater, Shapiro had made just seven three-pointers on the season. His eighth set off delirium, the gym erupting as the Vikings’ bench and stands emptied, a sea of black, white and powder blue filling the court and swarming Shapiro.

“When I first hit it, it was surreal. … I just saw the crowd storm, and I was getting trampled,” Shapiro said.

“He had no other choice but to take that shot because of the time. But it was just nice that he had the awareness and the confidence to let it go,” added Vikings Coach Chris Lun. “And I mean, maybe he makes that one out of 10 times, but all we needed was that one.”

Amid the celebration, Lun stood with his hands on his knees, his shock interrupted only by the occasional hug. Senior guard Thomas Farrell, trying to restore some semblance of order, gathered his teammates to shake hands with the Rockets.

Whitman (21-5) needed Shapiro’s shot to avoid a monumental collapse. It had a 15-point cushion in the fourth quarter after a contested three-pointer by Farrell, who finished with a team-high 17 points.

But Richard Montgomery’s press wreaked havoc on the Vikings — a team that usually excels at limiting turnovers — and kept creating fast break chances that turned the game.

“They’re quick, they’re aggressive, they jump-trap, they chase,” Lun said of Richard Montgomery (16-11). “And we repped it all week, but it’s hard for us to simulate their speed. But the main goal we talk with our guys is, no matter what, you got to stay even-keel.”

Whitman struggled to maintain its composure late — Lun said his team was bothered and played a little timid late. But the Vikings did just enough to keep their season going.

“It’s got to be,” Lun said when asked whether Shapiro’s make was the biggest shot in Whitman history. Worth noting: Lun has been coaching the Vikings for 19 seasons, including 2006, when they won their only boys’ state title.

Now comes a date with Frederick, which advanced with a 61-49 win over Wise in Upper Marlboro.

“To win a state championship … sometimes you just need bounces,” Lun said. “And we certainly got one big one tonight.”

St. Charles, Northeast in 3A final

St. Charles rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit at Wise to beat Stephen Decatur, 63-61, and earn a trip to College Park for the Maryland 3A boys’ final. The Spartans (21-5) were led by Shamir Taylor’s 27 points.

The Spartans, playing in their first title game, will face Northeast, which defeated Long Reach, 56-49, at North Point. Senior guard Cam Albury led the Eagles (21-5), who will also make their finals debut, with 18 points.

The Lightning finished 23-3.

Hammond extended its undefeated season with a 63-57 win over Gwynn Park at North Point in a 2A girls’ semifinal.

The Golden Bears (26-0) led by as many as 14, but the Yellow Jackets (21-5) responded to cut the deficit to three at the end of three quarters. Nia Green led Hammond with 20 points, and Sara Yarnell scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half.

The Golden Bears will face Francis Scott Key in their first appearance in the state final since 2002.

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