Carver Vo-Tech boys basketball stuns No. 9 City, 62-61, behind Dorrian Sands’ 26 points

For Carver Vo-Tech boys basketball, its first half at perennial Baltimore power City on Tuesday was filled with turnovers, lapses and frustration.

Trailing by double digits at halftime, coach Alvin Parker urged his players to bring more energy and confidence and challenged them to make the fourth quarter meaningful.

The Bears did just that and more. They made it memorable.

Senior guard Dorrian Sands capped a sensational 26-point performance with a go-ahead basket with 3.7 seconds left, and, one defensive stop later, Carver was celebrating a monumental 62-61 upset win over the No. 9 Knights.

The Bears fell behind 10-0 in the first three minutes, trailed by as many as 15 and didn’t take their first lead until the final minute of the game. After Sands’ basket, the Knights called timeout and had a well-designed play to set up junior guard Omarr Smith Jr., but his runner from eight feet hit the front rim.

Carver improves to 11-3, while City, the defending Baltimore City and Class 3A state champions, falls to 9-5.

“We live off humility, and humility and being humble are two different things. Staying humble means you downgrade yourself. Humility means you believe in yourself, but you respect everybody else. So that’s what the talk was about. Having humility, having the right mindset and going out and executing,” Parker said. “This is huge. To me, they’re the best team in the city. They might lose a game here and there, but, overall, I think they have the most talent. So to beat them, to come out and play this way, I think it shows a lot about our boys.”

For Sands, a captain who scored 17 points in the second half, it was just a matter of making sure he kept playing through the difficult stretches.

“We have this rule called ‘never too high, never too low’ to keep ourselves centered, and that’s what we did. We just kept playing,” he said.

The Knights still had control of the game with a 49-41 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Bears were quick to change that with baskets from Kaiden Matthews and Sands in the opening minute and then a 3-pointer from Kalial McCullough to cut the deficit to 49-48 midway through.

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But the Knights had a poised response with a 6-0 run highlighted by two baskets from Smith Jr. to reclaim a 55-48 advantage with 4:21 to play.

Sands took over at the end. He scored three baskets to get the Bears close, and then after a game-tying 3-pointer from McCullough with 1:09 to play, hit a free throw to provide the Bears with their first lead with 49 seconds left. A heads-up follow-up basket iced the win.

“This is real big,” he said. “That’s a good team that we just beat and hopefully we can keep winning. My team needed me, so I did what I could. It feels good.”

At the start, the Knights looked the part of defending state champions with crisp play at both ends leading to a 20-5 advantage after Smith hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter.

The Bears settled in during the second quarter behind nine points from Desmond Handon and two straight baskets from Sands. When Rayvon Hassleberger scored with three seconds left in the half, the visitors had trimmed the Knights’ lead to 29-22. But City’s Marquel Paschall was fouled shooting a desperation 3-pointer just past midcourt, leading to three made foul shots, and then another Carver foul with one second left led to two more makes by Gage Howard to push the advantage to 34-22.

City coach Omarr Smith Sr. put his team’s performance in simple terms.

“We didn’t finish the game. We started it but didn’t finish it. And we know it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” he said. “They kept playing and we stopped playing.”

Handon finished with 15 points, while McCullough added 10 for the winners. Smith led City with 17 points.

CVT — McCullough 10, Sands 26, Hassleberger 2, Matthews 5, Handon 15, A. Ross 4. Totals: 26 4-14 62

CC — Howard 12, Smith 17, Paschall 7, Griffin 9, Horton 4, Campbell 10, Hargrove 2. Totals: 24 11-17 61

Halftime: 34-22, CC