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TJ has year to remember, game to forget

March 10, 2001

TJ has year to remember, game to forget



By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

Randallstown 62, T. Johnson 54



THOMAS JOHNSON (54)

Foley 8, Thomas 25, Higbee 13, Wingerd 3, Wells 5. Totals 20-58 8-11 54.

RANDALLSTOWN (62)

Breaux 6, Stokes 12, McMillion 15, Jordan 13, Carter 1, Wilson 4, Marange 9. Totals 22-46 15-24 62.

T. Johnson20131110-54

Randallstown20141513-62

Three-point goals-Thomas Johnson 6-27 (Foley 2, Thomas 2, Higbee, Wingerd), Randallstown 3-10 (Stokes, Jordan 2). Fouled out-Wingerd.



COLLEGE PARK, Md. - No ifs, ands or buts. No whining. No complaining. The Thomas Johnson boys basketball team refused all of them Saturday afternoon at Cole Field House.

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"You cannot expect to win a state championship if you don't play well," TJ point guard Jermaine Thomas said.

The only hint at a maybe came when coach Tom Dickman said the game was closer than the final score, and he was right. But for everyone checking out the Cliffs Notes version, the 62-54 victory by Randallstown over the Patriots in the Class 3A final did say it correctly.

For one day, TJ was not the best team on the floor.

"I told them (afterward), 'We didn't play well enough to win,'" Dickman said. "We're not making any excuses. If we play better, we've got a much better chance to win."

The Patriots (20-6, No. 4 Herald-Mail poll) had chances to win this one, too. However, their normally reliable shooting vanished thanks to the Rams' 2-3 zone and dominant rebounders.

TJ led 40-37 with 3 minutes, 13 seconds left in the third quarter when Joe Higbee found John Foley on a backdoor cut. The Rams, who had led most of the way before that, responded with an 8-0 run in the next 80 seconds that gave them a lead they never gave back.

"Anytime we had a chance to take control, they made a big play," Dickman said. "We did a good job defensively, but there were too many mistakes. ... They really made us pay on the offensive boards."

The Patriots made one final run to open the fourth behind Thomas. He scored back-to-back buckets to open the frame and make it a 49-48 game, but he and his teammates struggled the rest of the way in. TJ went 1-for-12 from the field in the final seven minutes, and only Thomas found the scorebook.

"I took it upon myself to be the leader out there," said Thomas, who really didn't look for his shot until the fourth. "I thought if I could hit some tough buckets, it would say, 'We're not out of this yet.'"

Instead, the Rams simply wouldn't let the Patriots back in, hitting 7 of 11 free throws in the final 1:21.

As the Patriots walked out of the locker room, heads hung low and talk was at a minimum. Instead of the school's eighth state title, they had to settle for its third runner-up finish.

But its 13th trip to the state tournament had been a surprise - and they weren't making excuses for that, either.

"Fifteen minutes after the game, it's hard to be in a good mood," Dickman said. "But when we step back, it's been a great year.

"Look at the teams we played. To compete like we did and have 20 wins ... it's pretty remarkable."

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