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Jordan Kendall | |'ll never recover from that game

Mar. 9—About two years ago, Times-News sportswriter Alex Rychwalski wrote a column after Mikey Allen hit buzzer-beating 3-pointers on back-to-back days to win Bishop Walsh's two games at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament for the first time.

Alex's headline was "I'll never recover from that shot."

After watching Fort Hill defeat Lake Clifton 51-40 in the state quarterfinals, I'll never recover from that game.

The Sentinels trailed 16-1 after one quarter and were down 21-3 early in the second.

Most of South Cumberland probably thought the game was over.

Fort Hill cut it to 24-9 at halftime, but despite trailing by 15, it still felt like too big of a mountain to climb.

And then it happened. Somehow, someway, the Sentinels began to rally.

"We knew they weren't a second half team," said Fort Hill senior Jabril Daniels, who scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime. "We watched them play fast and only score seven points in the third quarter. We knew we could get them coming out of the break."

Fort Hill went on a 23-5 run and came all the way back, taking the lead on a 3-ball from Deshaun Brown on the right wing.

Everyone in the gym, including myself, lost their minds.

"Thanks to the man above, he gave us the strength," Brown said. "I don't know what happened, he gave us what we needed. Gave us the strength, and we came out with a different mindset the whole second half."

In college football, whoever wins the Heisman Trophy usually has a "Heisman moment" when they beat a top team or comeback from a huge deficit, making it obvious they deserve to win.

Brown had that moment, likely now the favorite for Area Player of the Year. He took over in the second half and willed his team all the way back.

Brown scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the entire Lakers team who combined for nine.

"Deshaun's super cool, sometimes he's almost too cool," Fort Hill head coach Thad Burner said. "But he keeps his head about him. I think he was just frustrated, but he didn't say anything. When he gets into a groove, he's tough."

In the final 90 seconds, he drew four fouls including one off of a steal.

He hit 4 of 6 free throws to ice the game and scored a game-high 20 points.

"Throughout my entire career, if this is not top five, I'd say top three," Brown said of where the win ranks in his athletic career. "It's honestly an amazing experience."

Entering Wednesday, a team from Western Maryland had never beaten a team from Baltimore City in the state playoffs.

Very few people both in and out of South Cumberland expected Fort Hill to be the first, especially after trailing 16-1.

Lake Clifton hadn't lost to a school outside of Baltimore in the playoffs since 2016.

Since Baltimore City joined the MPSSAA in 1993, Western Maryland schools were 0-13 in the state tournament against teams from Baltimore.

They are now 1-13 after Fort Hill did the impossible.

"It means a lot, I'm from Baltimore," Daniels said. "I grew up playing against these guys. So it means a lot to finally beat them."

I'm a New York Giants' fan. The first football game I saw on TV was Super Bowl 42 when they upset the 18-0 New England Patriots.

No one thought the Giants had a chance going in to win.

But they showed what a resilient team can do. They showed what pure heart and determination looks like.

The Sentinels remind me a lot of those Giants.

No one thought they had a chance to win this game.

Fort Hill's a football powerhouse, but haven't reached the state title game since 1973 or won it all since 1958 on the hardwood.

They're playing a Lake Clifton program with seven state titles, three since 2018, who played for the state title last season.

But like I said earlier, somehow, someway, the Sentinels found a way.

I've covered some great games since coming to Cumberland about a year and a half ago.

Last month, I witnessed the best basketball I've seen from the WVU Potomac State College men's team since I started covering them.

Against Allegany College, the Catamounts threw everything they had at the Trojans, but came up just short on a Cam Brown buzzer-beater in overtime.

I watched the ACM baseball team trail 8-3 in the bottom of the ninth, but rally to beat Potomac State 9-8 last spring.

I saw the Keyser boy's basketball squad win the section over Hampshire in double overtime, 83-81 last winter, when the Golden Tornado trailed by five with 30 seconds left but forced overtime.

I saw Fort Hill win a football state title on a walk-off field goal in 2022.

I'm sure I'm missing some other memorable games from other sports, but my point is, I've seen some great games.

This is easily the best game I've seen, regardless of sport.

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Email him with scores and story suggestions at jkendall@times-news.com.