It has already been a season filled with unexpected excitement for the Catonsville boys basketball team, including a SportsCenter moment.
The Comets hope that excitement continues in front of the home crowd when they host New Town on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Lansdowne at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Perhaps they will provide another magical moment like they did on Dec. 12 when they defeated Chesapeake, 57-54, on a turnaround double-pump game-winning shot by Christian Boxley.
The shot got national recognition when it appeared on ESPN’s top 10 plays.
Third-year coach Matthew Fannon wasn’t aware junior varsity player Ross Kidd sent his video to ESPN and that the "worldwide leader in sports" used it in its top 10 plays until the next day at school when he started receiving congratulations.
“They were talking about it, but I thought they were kidding,” Fannon said. “It was neat to see.”
The Comets had a lower-key highlight in late December when they won their first tournament under Fannon, the Knight Holiday Hoops Classic at Century High.
They won the championship game, 44-40, over the Carroll County school after baskets by Teddy Crayton and Antwan Pearson in the final moments broke a 40-40 tie.
Boxley, who scored 20 points along with Adam Obanago in an 85-78 win over La Plata on the first night of the classic, was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Obanago, a transfer from Mount St. Joseph, and Boxley are averaging in double figures. Obanago had a game-high 11 points in the win over Century.
“Adam has been playing well inside and out this year,” Fannon said.
Boxley has been solid at point guard and is the sparkplug for the defense. “Christian has really picked it up defensively,” Fannon said.After a week off, the Comets' schedule has picked up this week, culminating with the 7 p.m. tilt with rival Lansdowne (2-1) at Catonsville on Friday. The Comets lost to the Vikings by four points last season, but the nucleus of that Comet squad is back.
In addition to Boxley, Crayton and senior guard Joey Getzendanner, the Comets have been helped by the addition of Pearson and Musa Wichhart, who played on last year’s 16-4 junior varsity.
Pearson and Wichhart are both 6 feet 4, and along with Crayton (6-2), Obanaga (6-6) and Nathan Hines (6-6), give the Comets depth and strength inside.
“Our height and athleticism has really helped us,” Fannon said.
The experience of playing in close games has been evident in their execution at the end of games this year.
“We had high expectations last year, but we knew the biggest difference was closing out games, and this year we are closing out those games,” Fannon said.
By doing that, the Comets (5-3) have already equaled last year’s win total, when they finished 5-17.
The losses came against Mount St. Joseph and Pikesville in December, and to Owings Mills, 56-55, on Monday.