Gwynn Park’s Isaiah Miles watched all five Douglass players crash the paint for a rebound in the closing moments of Wednesday’s 2A South region semifinals, and his first instinct was to run the other direction. In the mad scramble for a loose ball, guard Marlon White somehow ended up with it and saw his teammate streaking toward the other basket.
The Yellow Jackets trailed by 18 points before halftime and held the lead for all of 37 seconds during what became their biggest comeback of the season. Gwynn Park (23-2) will host Westlake in the 2A South region final Friday.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Miles (20 points) said, still reveling in the postgame celebration. “I just had to buckle down, make the free throw so we could secure the win. We were never out of the game, so I felt like we all just buckled down and took control.”
Douglass (20-2) came out hot and torched Gwynn Park’s normally stingy defense. At times, senior Cameron Hayes (26 points) tried to will the Eagles past their rival, finishing around the rim from the baseline. A short jumper by Hayes gave Douglass its biggest lead at 40-22 late in the first half.
But Gwynn Park slowly began to chip away, and junior Justin Faison delivered with his team in jeopardy. He scored 16 of his 23 points in the final 12 minutes, hitting several contested jumpers to steady the Yellow Jackets before their final push.
Faison credited a “McNamara Reject” sign in the Douglass student section — he transferred to Gwynn Park after playing with McNamara’s junior varsity team last year — for providing extra motivation.
“I took that to heart, and I didn’t want to lose,” Faison said. “They thought I was rejected, but at the end of the day we’re just trying to keep pounding and get a state championship. That’s all that matters.”
To keep those title hopes alive, the Yellow Jackets withstood a manic final minute. Senior Aaron Parker gave Gwynn Park its first lead of the game on a hanging lay-in, but Douglass junior Donald Carey came right back with a fast-break basket to put the Eagles back on top.