Baltimore City’s Patterson Clippers could be called an unconventional basketball team. They attack from the outside instead of the inside, they launch three-pointers instead of layups and their biggest star is actually their smallest player.

Behind 5-foot, 7-inch guard Aquille Carr, Patterson took the court at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center on March 10 in their first ever Maryland State semifinals appearance to face the Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders of Greenbelt, Md. With Carr at the helm, Patterson turned a 10-point first-half deficit into a 67-59 win to advance to the Maryland 4A title game, scheduled for March 12.

The electric Carr was everywhere on the court, timing steals, launching from deep and flashing his trademark quickness. The only thing that could contain the sophomore was foul trouble, as three first-half fouls against him threatened to end Patterson’s season.

Roosevelt took advantage of the opportunity as Carr went to the bench and built a 29-19 lead before Patterson came back to life. Through three-point shooting and efficient ball movement, Patterson senior guards Karrell Goines and Rickey Meekins helped slice a 10-point deficit to just five as Patterson went into halftime trailing 31-26.

The play of Goines and Meekins held down the fort in the first half, but Carr returned to lead the charge in the second as Patterson outscored Roosevelt 41-28 over the final two quarters. Roosevelt (17-9) loves to grind a game out while Patterson (25-1) loves to push it, and the Baltimore City champions’ speed and tempo simply wore out the Greenbelt, Md. school down the stretch.

“I thought the foul trouble early on hurt us,” Patterson coach Harry Martin said. “ our defensive pressure got to them and our conditioning kind of wore down a little bit in the second half.”

Roosevelt’s defense-focused game plan started out effectively, but broke down in the second half as Carr (game-high 25 points) and his teammates began to speed things up.

“I thought we played well, I thought we played hard overall,” Roosevelt coach Brendan O’Connell said. “ we just turned the ball over a little too much and gave up too many rebounds in the second half and Patterson made plays.”

With their first-ever state title on the line, Patterson knows their mission isn’t over yet. They will face the Maryland 4A East champion North Point Eagles (26-0) on March 12 in their biggest test of the season. But it’ll be a test that they’ve been studying for all season.

“When we first had tryouts on Nov. 15, we always said we had three goals,” Carr said. “We got two of them, now, we just need one more. We’re not trying to celebrate too much. We’re happy for this win but we got to get this next one to end our season off great.”

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO