As the shots weren’t falling and the turnovers were mounting, Glen Burnie needed someone to provide a spark in Tuesday’s season-opener at Severna Park.
The player who provided that spark was Kennedy McKissic, who scored eight of his game-high 17 points during a decisive second quarter in the Gophers’ 53-41 victory over the Falcons.
Glen Burnie (1-0) didn’t score for the first five minutes of the game and had just one field goal in the first quarter before Xavier Thornton banked in a 3-pointer as the quarter expired. The Gophers trailed by three early in the second, but used a 15-0 run to take the lead for good.
“I was wondering if we were ever going to score,” Glen Burnie coach Mike Rudd said. “Once we broke the ice, I thought we could use our transition game to wear them down, and that’s what happened. We were still sloppy, but it was the first game.”
Thornton scored to get the run started, then McKissic scored in transition and converted the three-point play and gave the Gophers the lead for good at 14-12. McKissic added a pair of free throws during the run for the Gophers, who kept the Falcons scoreless for a five-minute span.
“We had a slow start and we just weren’t getting the right shots,” said McKissic, who added eight rebounds and three steals. “We just started to slow things down, ran our offense and starting getting some good shots.”
The Gophers hit four 3-pointers during their 24-point second quarter after scoring just six points in the first. McKissic hit his early in the quarter, Braeden Cavey connected during the 15-0 run and Dominick Williams and Rakeem Felder hit theirs in the final 35 seconds and helped the Gophers go into halftime with a 30-16 lead.
“We have “spurtability,” which you saw in that second quarter,” Rudd said. “When we get out and run, it’s pretty nice.”
The Gophers led by as many as 17 in the third quarter and went into the fourth up by 14. Severna Park’s Jack Thomas scored at the 5:50 mark to cut the lead to 10, but McKissic answered with another three-point play and the Falcons got no closer.
Mekhi Simmons scored nine points, including six in the fourth quarter, and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds and added two steals and two assists. Thornton added eight points and Felder had a team-high five assists for the Gophers.
Thomas scored 10 points and Dave Fischer added nine for the Falcons, who forced five Glen Burnie turnovers that led to their first-quarter lead.
“I thought we did some good things early, but we got away from it,” Severna Park coach Paul Pellicani said. “The second quarter, nerves were just visible everywhere. We got crushed on the glass, which can’t happen.”
Tuesday’s game was played outside of the county schedule and does not count as a county game in the standings. The Gophers and Falcons routinely play early in the season instead of scheduling games outside of the county. They’ll play again on Jan. 3 at Glen Burnie in a game that will count in the county standings.
“It’s two contrasting styles,” Rudd said. “Me and Paul are friends and it’s a good rivalry. We’ve done it for years, so why change what works.”
Glen Burnie (1-0) 6 24 11 12 — 53
Sev. Park (0-1) 8 8 11 14 — 41