The Paint Branch High School boys basketball team battled back from an early deficit, but could not hold off visting Baltimore Polytechnic, falling 57-47 in Friday’s 4A North Region championship game.
The Panthers (21-4) briefly held a 45-43 advantage with about four minutes remaining in the game, but the Engineers finished the contest on a 14-2 run. Most of those points came from the free throw line, as Paint Branch was forced to foul to get the ball back. John Crosby had seven of his 16 points in the frame, and Poly connected on 8-of-11 attempts from the line down the stretch.
“Their kid, [Crosby], is tough and he did a hell of a job,” Panthers coach Walter Hardy said. “We needed to stop them a couple times, and we just couldn’t get the stop. It could have gone either way with two minutes left, we had a couple turnovers and their pressure was relentless. Those turnovers hurt us, and we just couldn’t get the ball to drop a couple times. It was a hard-fought game, and I’m proud of my kids.”
Paint Branch took a 25-23 lead into halftime after trailing by as many as eight points in the early going. The Panthers outscored the Engineers 16-9 in the second quarter, led by six points from Jordan Radway during the run. Radway, a senior, finished with a team-high 12 points.
John Onukaogu grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Paint Branch, while Tristan Tolliver (nine points) contributed five assists. Justin Hackley scored nine points and pulled down seven boards, and Tre Galloway added eight points.
“We had a great season, and I’m really proud of our seniors,” Armando Nwizu said. “We just have to come back and work really hard in the summer to get ready for next year.”
The Engineers (19-6) were paced by Darrion Stokes-Graham, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds. Terray Quickley added 10 points and a pair of blocks for Poly, which won the first region title in program history.
The Panthers graduate 10 seniors including the entire starting lineup. Hardy said he is grateful for the time he got to spend with this group, despite the disappointing end.
“It was a special group,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids. We just spent four months together, and there is a void in my life right now. They are a part of our basketball family now.”
Baltimore Polytechnic 57, Paint Branch 47
Poly (19-6) 14 9 18 16 -- 57
Paint Branch (21-4) 9 16 12 10 -- 47
Poly: Darrion Stokes-Graham 23, John Crosby 16, Terray Quickley 10, Julian Harris 4, Brandon Lindsay 4.
Paint Branch: Jordan Radway 12, Tristan Tolliver 9, Justin Hackley 9, Tre Galloway 8, Dom Ortiz 4, John Onukaogu 3, Donovan Walker 2.