On the way to a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B conference championship last season, Gilman senior stars Cyrus Jones and Ryan Ripken combined for 44 points in a 77-68 victory over MIAA A Conference member Calvert Hall in December.
On Monday night in Towson, the Cardinals returned the favor by claiming a nine-point victory of their own, 64-55, over the Greyhounds behind senior Wesley Blackwell and junior Sean Mayberry.
The backcourt tandem produced 33 points in the victory, four less than the Gilman duo of senior Ben Grace and sophomore Kai Locksley.
Still, Calvert Hall (4-3) prevailed in the non-conference battle because its bench outscored the Greyhound reserves, 19-6.
Senior Riley DeSmit's six points were the only contribution from the Gilman non-starters, while Calvert Hall seniors Denny Grace and Aaron Tawiah, junior Christopher Wallace and sophomores T.J. Duckett and Lawrence Cager helped their team's cause.
"We only go seven deep right now," Ben Grace said after a stellar game-high, 22-point outing. "We're looking for an eighth guy, trying to find the right mix. All the teams we play go at least eight deep."
Try as they might, the Greyhounds (1-5) could never gain the lead in the game, although they did draw even, 26-26, briefly prior to halftime on a DeSmit jumper before Duckett swished a three-pointer from the baseline as time expired.
A similar script played out in the third quarter as Gilman kept fighting to keep the Cardinals' lead under double digits and eventually forged another tie, 33-33, on a Grace three-ball until Calvert Hall went on a 9-0 run on a Blackwell jumper, a Wallace layup and back-to-back Duckett buckets.
That's when Locksley went to work, finishing a fastbreak and nailing a three-pointer on successive plays.
Calvert Hall built the lead back to eight points, only to watch Gilman chip away again on a stick-back and three-pointer by senior forward Matt Tilley and a Grace layup.
Cardinals sophomore center Evan Phoenix's put-back preceded the game's most pivotal play, Mayberry's three-point bank off the glass with a hand in his face as the shot clock expired that gave the Cardinals a 58-52 advantage with 2:42 remaining.
"That's the agony of sports," Gilman coach Owen Daly said.
"Miss it or make it, I just had to take the shot," Mayberry said.
When Mayberry converted a pass from Cager moments later, it was all over for the Greyhounds.
Not that Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld thought that was the case.
"Anytime you have (Ben) Grace in that situation, it's not over," Bauresfeld said. "He's such a great shooter."
As Bauersfeld noted, Grace can do other things, too, such as play tight defense, handle the ball and keep his teammates make smart passes.
Daly confirmed that assessment.
"Ben is clearly our senior leader," Daly said. "It doesn't matter how tired he looks, he never quits. He expends a lot of energy at both ends of the court. He's a complete player."
Grace said that after winning a championship, "it's kind of disappointing to be 1-5. But we just have to play more together as a team. But we'll be there in the end."
Considering their recent slate of games against defending Baltimore Catholic League champ Mount St. Joseph, a tussle with B Conference favorite St. Vincent Pallotti, St. Paul's and Calvert Hall, the Greyhounds' early-season schedule has been very challenging for a team that graduated much of its firepower from last year's squad.
An upcoming holiday tournament at the Hill School in Pennsylvania will be another difficult challenge.
Meanwhile, Calvert Hall's next opponent on Dec. 12, archrival Loyola Blakefield, has been known to give the Cardinals all they can handle in recent years.
Last season, the Cardinals claimed all three encounters with the Dons, but none of the outcomes were decided until the final minutes.
Gilman: Locksley 15, Grace 22, McBride 4, DeSmit 6, Tilley 8
CHC: Mayberry 17, Grace 2, Tawaih 2, Blackwell 16, Edwards 4, Wallace 5, Duckett 7, Cager 3, Phoenix 8
Half: CHC, 29-26Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun