TAKOMA PARK, MD – Heading into the halftime locker room down six points against a Shabach Christian team that had already beaten them twice this season, the Mt. Zion Warriors didn’t panic.
After all, when you’ve spent the past month overcoming playoff challenges, what’s one more?
Mt. Zion outscored Shabach 22-11 in the second half - including 14-5 in the fourth quarter - to eke out a 41-36 victory in a low-scoring slugfest to claim the Maryland Private School State Basketball Tournament Championship on Monday at Takoma Academy.
“We believed in our game plan,” Warriors coach Quinton Dulic said. “We knew coming in we had to get stops defensively, so in the second half we just had to do a better job. We didn’t have to change anything; we just had to do a better job of doing us.”
That approach turned out to be a winning formula for the two-year-old Mt. Zion High School program, as a strong postseason run resulted in the first additions to their school’s trophy case.
The Warriors thrived in the postseason, knocking off a series of higher-seeded teams along the way. In February, they took down top-seeded Highland and No. 3 Grace Brethren en route to the Metro Private School Conference (MPSC) championship, and entered the Maryland Private School Tournament as the No. 9 seed in the 12-team field.
Mt. Zion again rose to the challenge, knocking off No. 8 Good Counsel 65-57, No. 1 Bullis – at Bullis – 61-54 and No. 5 Bishop McNamara 51-50 to set up the showdown with No. 2 Shabach.
Shabach had won both of its regular-season meetings with Mt. Zion, and looked to be closing in on the third for much of Monday’s contest.
Shabach built a 17-12 lead after one quarter and led by as many as nine points in the second, before both offenses hit a standstill and the game became a possession-by-possession battle. The Eagles led 25-19 at the break behind 10 points from 2023 wing Kevon Corley.
In the second half, the scoring slowed even more, as the fouls started piling up for Shabach and their shots stopped falling. The Eagles last made shot from the field came with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter. Mt. Zion chipped away and eventually tied the game on free throws by 2024 wing Lynn King III with 5:55 remaining in the game.
2024 guard Logan Suber would eventually give the Warriors the lead at 33-31 with 2:56 remaining. Suber’s shot would end up being the final made shot of the game, as the teams traded free throws down the stretch, with the Warriors sealing it at the line.
King - who was named Tournament Most Outstanding Player - finished with 11 points and six rebounds to lead the Warriors, whole for 7 points from 2024 guard Hassan Dorman and six points apiece from 2023 guard Fallou Koite and 2025 forward Francis Folefac.
“A two-year old program, nobody’s ever done that before, I don’t think,” King said of claiming the title. “You can see the growth and development of each and every individual player, from the seniors to the sophomores. It’s something special.”
Corley finished with 11 points to lead the Eagles, who got 8 points from 2023 wing Ibrahim Robinson and 6 points and 12 rebounds from 2024 guard Farrell Crowell.
“It's super special, and it's the culmination of our season,” Dulic said. “We played them early in the season and we were in a maturation process. And now at the end of the season when we’re able to play our best basketball, we turned it from basketball players to young men, and I’m so proud of these guys for it.”
MOUNT ZION 12 7 8 14 - 41
SHABACH 17 8 6 5 - 36
Lynn King III 11, Hassan Dorman 7, Francis Folefac 6, Fallou Koite 6, Alex Byrd 4, Bobby Montgomery 4, Logan Suber 3, Isaiah Alexander 0.
Kevion Corley 11, Ibrahim Robinson 8, Farrell Crowell 6, Kennard Davis 5, Andre Thomas 4, Reece Samuels 2, Rashard Samuels 0, Kendall Washington 0.
Maryland Private School Tournament Most Outstanding Player Lynn King III. [MARCUS HELTON]