Some called it David vs. Goliath. Others called that notion ludicrous. It was, after all, the Class 4A high school boys’ basketball game state championship game. How could there be a David in title game of the most competitive class in Maryland?
The scoreboard, which read 70-43 in Henry A. Wise’s favor over Walt Whitman, suggested maybe the clichéd matchup many predicted wasn’t so far off. It was the largest margin of victory in 4A state championship history. And so, in the end, even in March, where the basketball world is often turned upside down and sideways, David isn’t supposed to stick with Goliath, and Whitman never did.
“This whole season has just been a special season,” Wise coach Rob Garner said. “And we give a lot of respect to Whitman, but we were determined, man. We were determined to come here tonight and play well. That was important to us as a program. We always talk about not just winning but ‘How do we want to win?’”
Tonight, they won handily and thoroughly.
It began with a Devin Moore layup, which was followed by another Moore layup, and then two Moore free throws. Micah Till buried a long jumper to make it 8-0 before Whitman coach Chris Lun called for a timeout, which yielded three points from senior Adam Lowet on the ensuing possession. But five points was as close as the Vikings would come for the remainder of the game and, by extension, the season. There was no amount of defenses — “I think we tried everything,” Lun said — no offensive wrinkles that even Lun, who had authored this Whitman team’s improbable run, could devise. There was just nothing that could stop Wise on this March Saturday, and Lun would readily admit as much.
“Oh they are very, very, very, very good,” the coach said. “Our gameplan was kind of to force them to beat us from the outside and I think they shot 60 percent in the first half but it felt like 95. Athletic, fast, quick, well-coached — certainly the best basketball team we’ve seen. They absolutely deserved to win the championship tonight.”
With 4 minutes and 40 seconds left to play in the second quarter, Wise had two players, Moore and Trevor Brown, in double-figure points. Whitman as a team had yet to reach double-figure points. By halftime, the Pumas had made 17-of-29 shots and had at least four players make a field goal in each quarter; Whitman wouldn’t make more than three field goals in any quarter until the fourth, the game already well in hand.
“It was just a great experience,” said Moore, who finished with 14 points in 13 minutes, second to Trevor Brown’s 15 points in 16 minutes. “It was just hard work, putting it in the gym with these fellas every day. This is just a great experience, having this moment to share with all my brothers.”
With 3:55 left in the fourth quarter, Garner had the luxury of pulling Micah Till, the engine of this state championship team. The Pumas were up 66-35, well out of range of even a miracle comeback. Moments later, all five starters and any key reserves took seats on the bench. The time to get state championship level of experience for Kyle Hill and Nate Hampton, for Michael Speight and D’Andre Simelton, had come.
The first state championship in school history hadn’t even been officially locked up, and yet it was time to start thinking about next year.
Once you go to the Comcast Center ..., Garner said, “It’s very addicting to go and come back and continue to have that experience. We have great kids in our program, we have a great junior varsity feeder, and as long as we continue to stay focused, hopefully one day we’ll be able to come back.”
Wise 70, Whitman 43
Wise (24-2, 17-0) 22 20 17 11 — 70
Whitman (21-7, 7-3) 7 8 8 20 — 43
Wise: Trevor Brown 15, Devin Moore 14, Lavonte Sanders 13, Micah Till 9, Justice Sneed 7, Lorenzo Drummond 4, Jelan Sloan 2, Michael Speight 2, Kyle Hill 2, Marty Robinson 2.
Whitman: Josh Fried 12, Alex Lesley 6, Max Steinhorn 5, Adam Lowet 5, Adam Joel 4, Riley Shaver 3, Kyle Depollar 2, Alec Szparaga 2, Anton Casey 2, Ryan Hannegan 2.