After leading for most of the first 2 1/2 quarters, Martin Luther King High fell behind briefly before limiting Taylor Allderdice to just five points over the final quarter-and-a-half in the Cougars' 48-35 victory in the PIAA Class AAAA boys' basketball semifinals last night at CASHS Field House.
The victory puts MLK in the state championship game for the first time in school history. It will take on Roman Catholic, a 69-66 winner over J.P. McCaskey, at Giant Center in Hershey on Saturday at 8 p.m. Roman defeated MLK in the schools' previous meeting this season, 58-57, on Feb. 27.
"I'm proud of our guys. It means a lot to have the opportunity to play for the state title," MLK head coach Sean Colson said. "We've come a long way in the 3 years that I've been here."
MLK (23-8) led 25-21 early in the third quarter before the Dragons pocketed nine of the next 12 and took a 30-28 lead on Lamone Dixon's stickback with 4:25 left in the quarter.
The Cougars responded with a 12-0 run that spanned the quarter break with six points of the run coming from Tyere Marshall. The 6-8 center finished the night with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
"Tyere missed a few layups early, but he didn't lose his confidence," Colson said. "He protected the rim and rebounded well tonight."
Ramon Creighton ended the Dragons' 9-minute scoring drought when he split a pair of charity tosses with 5:08 to go and the gap shrunk to 42-34 when Tim Jackson connected on a three-pointer with 3:19 to play. But Ladji Fofana put the game away with back-to-back buckets.
"They're a quick team and their big kid [Marshall] was the difference," Allderdice coach Buddy Valinka said. "They were also the best guards that we faced all year."
Allderdice (26-3) trailed 19-12 early in the second quarter, but a 9-4 spurt to end the first half made it 23-21 in favor of the Cougars.