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Commentary: Saying goodbye to baseball greats, and looking at some hoops numbers

Last week ended on a serious down note for me and a lot of other baseball fans, as we lost two Hall of Fame members on the same day. Earl Weaver, who I don't think needs any introduction here, and Stan Musial, who shouldn't either, unless you're one of those football geeks who doesn't care a bit for baseball, passed over to the next realm within a few hours of each other on Saturday. Weaver was 82, and Musial was 92, so I don't think either death counts as a tragedy, but it was still sad to see two of baseball's giants leave us. The two men couldn't have been much farther apart in personality, but they both pushed my favorite sport to new places, made it better, loved it, and we baseball fans are better for it. So long, fellas.

Now, sad, out-of-season baseball news done, let's have some numbers from basketball, shall we? Here are some figures that have been spinning around in my head recently:

10: That is the total number of points by which John Carroll boys basketball has defeated its last five opponents. Do the math there, and you'll see. Over their last five victories, the Patriots have been averaging a winning point differential of exactly two. They defeated Mt. Carmel, 62-60, on Wednesday, beat Archbishop Spalding, 53-50, on Monday, knocked off St. Frances, 42-41, last Friday, dispatched Glengelg Country, 54-52 on Jan. 16, and toughed out a 39-37 win over McDonogh on Jan. 14. If you look back to Jan. 9, John Carroll beat the Goretti squad by the relatively safe margin of 62-58.

I've seen a ton of close basketball games this season and the ones before it, but the string the Patriots are putting together is something really special. Night after night they're taking on some of the state's most talented squads and walking away with single-digit wins, some of which have come when John Carroll was trailing in the final seconds. I'm not entirely sure if that kind of intensity burns out a team's reserves, or makes it stronger, but I'd lean toward the latter. As my high school soccer coach said prior to a game we played with a team that had beaten its previous two opponents by huge margins (8-1 and 7-0, I think), "winning that easy makes you lazy. I bet we run circles around these guys."

40: Is the number of points scored by Bel Air's Tyler Norcross in the Bobcats' 75-70 loss to Joppatowne last Friday night. Yes, the Bobcats lost, but I think some mention should be made of someone breaking the 40-point barrier. My memory is pretty bad, but I can't remember the last time a boys basketball player has done that. I seem to remember a player from Edgewood putting up more than 40 points a few seasons back, probably 2009-10, but their name is just not coming to me right now (help me out, Harford County hoops fans). In any case, scoring more than half your team's points in a 75-70 loss is nothing to pass over lightly. Well done, Tyler. Other players take note, if you score 40 points in a game, I will put your name in my column.

1,000 and 1,000: That would be the number of career points and rebounds, respectively, to which Harford Tech's Isaiah Gills is getting very close. Through last week, according to Cobras' head coach William Jones, the Harford Tech big man had 950 points and 935 rebounds, so he'll likely break the barrier in both categories this season. Gills has been a strong presence in several different sports since he was a freshman, and I'm glad his efforts are paying off with career milestones.

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