Pressure defense led to a high shooting percentage and convincing 76-43 boys basketball victory for Owings Mills (6-1) over visiting Catonsville (1-8) Wednesday night.
The Eagles had five players in double figures, including Ceontay Coit (16 points), Kevin Yrizzary (13), Jawon Johnson (12), Damian Archer (12) and Koron Ford (10).
Both teams struggled from the perimeter because of the long holiday layoff, but the undersized Eagles made up for it with a 1-2-2 press that produced the first five points of the game by point guard Johnson (6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals).
Catonsville tied the game at 5-5 on a three-pointer by James Baker and putback from Kevin Sheppard with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
But Owings Mills scored eight straight points in 1:26, spearheaded by a pair of steals and baskets from Coit.
The up-tempo transition game was just what the Eagles needed.
“The best thing to do was to speed them up and not try to play halfcourt, especially a team that is bigger than us, like they were,” Owings Mills coach Richard Epps said.
Coit had 14 of his 16 points in the first half when the Eagles built the lead to 20 points with 5:48 left until intermission.
A pair of three pointers by Danny Carver (team-high 9 points) helped cut the deficit to 38-22 at halftime.
The Comets cut it to 38-26 in the first minute of the second half on baskets by Jamal Tyson (6 points, 12 rebounds) and Brendan McTaggart, but Johnson took over with nifty passing and defense that led to five points, two assists and two steals in the period when the lead swelled to 51-29.
“I was a starting point guard last year and I just feel like I have a lot of young kids on my team so I have to step up and make them play as hard as I want to play,” Johnson said.
The younger kids did just that when they expanded the lead with a 25-point fourth quarter.
“Juwan is our leader, vocally and physically,” Epps said. “He started every game for us last year as a junior, so he knows what it takes to win varsity games and he’s really helping the young guys through the varsity transition.”
His ball movement was also infectious and that led to the good passing that helped them shoot 48 percent (31-for-64) from the floor.
The Comets shot just 24 percent (14-for-58) and they were outrebounded 37-28.
Catonsville coach Matt Fannon, whose squad’s only victory was a 65-50 triumph before the holiday over Chesapeake, of Anne Arundel, was disappointed in the way his squad handled the traps.
“I don’t think it was an overly aggressive press, I just think we panicked a bit,” Fannon said. “We made some bad choices and bad passes, floaters that were picked off.”
The blowout loss came after the Comets lost four straight games by less than 10 points, including a two-point loss to Overlea.
“We had four games on the road and we lost them all because we couldn’t overcome them in the two minutes,” Fannon said.
Owings Mills coach Epps knows exactly what his team needs to do in crunch time or when they need a spark.
“We are going to have to be more of an attacking team,” said the coach, whose squad’s only loss came against Milford Mill.