Catonsville seniors, assistant coach enjoy final regular-season home game

Catonsville senior Gast scores 17 of 23 points in first half of win over Perry Hall

The Catonsville High girls basketball team officially held senior night on Friday, Feb. 3 when the host Comets defeated Chesapeake, 93-43.

But, that wasn’t the Comets’ last regular-season home game.

That game was played Wednesday night, Feb. 8, when the Comets hosted Perry Hall.

Catonsville nearly scored 100 points again and defeated the Gators, 97-31.

The game was more than just the final game for Catonsville seniors Jen Gast, Amber Lally and Aakilah Barrett.

It was also a special night for Catonsville assistant coach Mandy Fischer.

Fischer played four years of varsity basketball and graduated in 2000 from Perry Hall High as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

She started coaching the JV girls basketball team at Perry Hall for five years in 2005 before coaching the varsity for seven years through the 2016 season.

Fischer was replaced by her former varsity coach at Perry Hall, Linda Caccavalla.

“It’s definitely different because my roots are at Perry Hall,” said Fischer, who admitted she was excited and anxious. “I’ve never been on this side of the coin before, so it was a totally different perspective. I just wanted a good game. I wanted both teams to play hard.”

Catonsville did just that, building a 27-11 first-quarter lead and increasing it to 49-17 by halftime.

“It’s nice to see a group of kids that play hard and work hard especially under these very weird circumstances,” said Fischer, who still teaches Social Studies at Perry Hall.

All three Catonsville seniors made their final regular-season game on the home court memorable.

Gast scored 17 points in the first half and finished with 23 points, tying junior Jasmine Dickey (23) for high scorer in the game.

Gast was aware the game had a special meaning for Fischer.

“We knew we wanted to win it for her, but we knew we have to come out every game and play strong because once we get to the playoffs we can’t slow down,” Gast said.

It was the 15th straight win for the Comets (19-1), who will play at Franklin (15-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. The winner will represent Division II in the Baltimore County championship game.

Gast admitted the senior night game against Chesapeake was emotional, but hopes she has several more games at Catonsville High if the Comets earn the top seed in the Class 4A North Region playoffs.

“It was upsetting knowing it was senior night and we are finally here, but knowing that we have so much more to go and that we are going to go far, it just makes me more excited to keep playing,” said Gast, who will play basketball at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County next season.

Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said Gast averages 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

She played varsity for all four seasons, including her first two with her sister, Renee, on the same team.

Renee Gast played soccer and basketball at Catonsville High before graduating in 2015 and now plays soccer for Towson University.

“Out of respect for Renee, she [Jen] was going to be second fiddle out of respect and love for her sister,” Mohler said. “I knew the day she graduated, Jen was going to blossom and she did.”

Jen Gast wasn’t the only Comet who played on the same court with her sister.

Barrett, played the past two varsity seasons with younger sibling and junior Jameila Barrett.

Jameila Barrett scored 14 points against Perry Hall, while her older sister scored all 10 of her points in the second half.

“I love playing with my sister,” Aakilah Barrett said. “We have so much fun together. It’s nice seeing that we can get along and we can play together and actually have a good time.”

Having a good time on and off the court has made her senior season memorable.

“It’s just been a whole bunch of fun,” Aakilah Barrett said. “The team is full of energy and everybody was happy. We got along so well. I enjoyed it.”

She also enjoys watching the starters often stake the team to big early leads.

“When they [starters] have energy, I feel like it brings us up and it makes us play harder,” Aakilah Barrett said.

Nobody enjoys coming off the bench and sparking the team more than Lally.

That was never more evident then in a 59-55 overtime victory over Anacostia in the championship game of the Bernice Sandler Bracket during a holiday tournament.

“We were down 14 in the first half and I put her [Lally] in and we cut it to four,” Mohler said. “We go down 16 in the second half and I put her in the game and we tied it and won in overtime. That’s all you need to know about what she means to the team.”

Lally has earned her spot as the first guard off the bench and likes the way the team has bonded.

“I love it,” Lally said. “I think we all get along great and we have a great time as a team.”

What was one of her favorite memories from her senior season?

“I think definitely senior night, because it was kind of like me, Jen and Aakilah and I think it was kind of like our time to shine and I think we really came out hard and it was the best game we played all season,” Lally said.

Mohler has seen Lally play hard all season and that’s not the only thing he appreciates about her.

“I can put her anywhere on the floor and she will do whatever we ask,” Mohler said. “She is so fundamental, just a great team player and she’s just a hustler and does all the little things that you ever want, never says boo and always has a smile on her face.”

Boxscore

Catonsville 97

Jen Gast 23, Jasmine Dickey 23, Stashia Daniels 15, Jameila Barrett 14, Aakilah Barrett 10, Maddi McLean 4, Amber Lally 2, Gabby Douglas 2, Cerenity Chambers 2, Alicia Buck 2.

Perry Hall 31

Madison Townsley 9, Camille Becker 8, Brooklyn Jones 4, Kara Dietrich 4, Amaiya Moore 3, Casey Bender 3

Halftime: Catonsville 49 Perry Hall 17

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