The first victory for new Catonsville boys basketball head coach Teron Owens ended happily similar to the last one he enjoyed as a player for the Comets state championship team in 1992.
When Catonsville senior Shawn Wagstaff intercepted a pass and raced to the basket for a layup with two seconds left, it gave the Comets a 63-61 lead and they held on for the victory over Mount Hebron on Wednesday night at Catonsville High.
It also capped an 8-0 run for the Comets in the final 2:31, after they trailed 61-55.
In the Comets’ 60-59 win over Potomac in the 1992 championship game, they also rallied with an 8-0 finishing run, but that one took five seconds less.
After a free throw by Mount Hebron’s Ryan Kinlock pushed the lead to 61-55 left with 2:42 left in the game, Catonsville’s comeback began with a free throw by Mark Chambers, cutting the deficit to 61-56.
Wagstaff got the rebound after a Hebron miss and fed Chambers inside the key for a two-point jumper to trim the deficit to 61-58 with 2:05 left.
After consecutive misses by the Vikings, Catonsville’s Jalen Jones hauled in the rebound and that led to his own three-pointer, after a feed by Wagstaff.
That tied the game at 61-61 with 1:29 left.
With 1:23 remaining, the Vikings missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Catonsville misfired at the other end.
Hebron’s next possession ended in a missed shot that was rebounded by Caleb Owens. Owens is the son of Catonsville’s head coach, and he was wearing the same number 32 his dad wore in 1992.
In that championship win, Teron Owens had two key offensive rebounds in the final 2:26, the first that led to his follow-up basket and the second that ended with the game-winning jumper by Robbie Reich.
His son’s rebound wasn’t as dramatic, because it led to a missed shot by Wagstaff, but on Hebron’s ensuing possession Wagstaff poked away a pass near the top of the key and raced in for the game-winning layup.
“That was just instinct. I just told my team youv’e got to play hard defense and keep your head on a swivel and just play hard all the way through,” said Wagstaff, who didn’t worry about his first-game winning shot in his prep career. “I just focused on the layup. I’m not worried about contact.”
The Comets thought they had won on the shot, but the officials put two seconds back on the clock and a desperation heave by Brandon Prox was off the mark.
Prox (game-high 19 points) and reserve Terrell Coleman (14) were the only Vikings in double figures.
Catonsville was led by junior Andrew McInerney (16 points) and seniors Wagstaff (15) and Chambers (12).
McInerney did most of his damage in the first quarter, when he scored nine of the Comets first 11 points.
It was the second start for McInerney, who was scoreless in the season-opening 50-40 loss to Oakland Mills the night before.
“I’m pushing things out of these kids where they have never been pushed before,” Owens said.
Catonsville has only three players on its roster with varsity experience, while Hebron started freshmen Stevie Jackson and Evan Ichrist, along with juniors Prox and Kinloch and senior Alex Nazaire.
Catonsville led 18-16 after one quarter, but the Vikings sent it to intermission tied at 36-36, thanks to seven second-quarter points off the bench by Coleman and five from Kinloch.
Wagstaff scored eight points in the second quarter and juniors Mark Brady and Ben Hall came off the bench and contributed.
Brady canned two clutch three-pointers and Hall played solid defense.
“Everybody has got to know their role, they’ve got to know what to do when they get their minutes and they’ve got to show that they are ready to perform,” Owens said. “I just them tell them always be ready because your number might be called.”
Catonsville built a 50-43 lead late in the third quarter on a three-pointer by Jones, but Hebron closed with a 6-1 run in the final 3:16 and only trailed 51-49 at the break.
Prox had two three-pointers in the quarter, but he was matched by Jones, who canned a pair of treys and grabbed some big rebounds.
“Jalen had an off night last night, but I told him if your shot is not going you are still a part of the game,” Owens said. “He rebounded for us tonight, he got a couple of defections and he made the big shot and that’s what it is all about.”
Before he hit his big trey that tied the game at 61-61, Hebron’s Coleman and Prox hit game-changing three-pointers.
Coleman’s three-pointer with 4:20 left gave the Vikings a 57-55 lead and Prox’s 20 seconds later stretched it to 60-55.
But they only scored one point the rest of the way and Wagstaff made the play at the end to win it for Catonsville.
“He’s a great defender,”Owens said. “He has a great eye for the ball.”
Unfortunately, Mount Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer saw that at the very end.
“It was our first game and we started two freshmen and we are young and we made a lot of mistakes, but you’ve got to give them credit for playing hard all the way through the game,” Linsenmeyer said. “They made the last play. It was a good environment and I think both teams played real hard.”
Mt. Hebron 16-20-13-12—61
Catonsville: Andrew McInerney 16, Shawn Wagstaff 15, Matt Chambers 12, Jalen Jones 9, Mark Brady 6, Amori Guadaloupe 4, Caleb Owens 1.
Mt. Hebron: Brandon Prox 19, Terrell Coleman 14, Alex Nazaire 6, Ryan Kinloch 6, Yassin Omer 5, Kobi Crump 4, Will Bates 4, Stevie Jackson 2, Evan Ichrist 1.