The Washington Post
Lions can’t complete late-season run
All season, Cameron Ward had sought to be Largo’s ray of hope. When teammates missed open shots or committed a turnover, Ward was the first to have their back, providing support and delivering a nugget of encouragement.
But as his three-pointer clanged off the rim Thursday night at Xfinity Center, leading to a breakaway dunk by New Town’s Jaden Brown that effectively sealed a 64-57 loss in the Maryland 2A boys’ state title game, it was Ward who needed to be consoled.
And as the final seconds ticked away, his teammates obliged, surrounding the sophomore standout as he lay facedown on the court.
“It just really hurt in that moment,” Ward said. “It felt like we were destined to win today, but we came up short, and that’s hard to handle for me. We were right there.”
The loss ended a stunning run from the Lions (21-7), who won 12 straight games to reach the state final as a No. 6 seed. Led by Ward and a group of his fellow underclassmen, Largo captured the Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A championship and closed the regular season with eight consecutive wins.
The Lions stayed hot in the state tournament, beating No. 3 seed Overlea in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Walkersville, the Central Maryland Conference runner-up, in the semifinals.
“Inexperience, sometimes it shows itself when you don’t want it to,” Coach Rodney Ward said. “We’ve been flying the plane and trying to build it at the same time. Some days we have breaks, some days we have a rudder, but regardless we’re out there in the fight.”
With the score knotted at 28 at halftime, Largo was in familiar territory — a tight game. The Lions’ three previous playoff games were decided by four points or less.
But unlike the contests along their way to College Park, the Lions were unable to create any separation after intermission. And when New Town (26-3) deployed a frenetic defense, stifling Largo’s attack, the Lions were out of answers.
Ward, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in just 35 varsity games, a Prince George’s County record, was held to 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting — well below his season average of 27 points.
Freshmen Christian Ware and Jalen Johnson added nine and 11 points, respectively.