There are no easy games in boys basketball in the Chesapeake (upper) Division. That was proven again Friday night in Edgewood, where first-place Aberdeen saw the host Rams get to within two points down the stretch before the Eagles pulled away to take an 80-71 victory.
With just over 90 seconds left in regulation, Edgewood's Roderick Harrison grabbed a rebound from his own missed shot and hit a layup to make the score 71-69 in Aberdeen's favor.
Eagles head coach Johnny Brooks called a time out and talked to his team, which was holding an eight-point lead just a minute before.
"I told them to just calm down, and relax," Brooks said. "Edgewood was trying to speed us up, to force us to make bad decisions, and that's exactly what we were doing. I told them we just needed to hang onto the ball, to run the clock, and draw some fouls. I said, 'we don't need any jump shots. Hold the ball, because they are going to foul you.'"
The pep talk worked, as Aberdeen's Darryn Garner drew back-to-back fouls with Edgewood in the bonus, and calmly knocked down four free throws to extend Aberdeen's lead to 75-69.
Aberdeen's Jaleel Gibson followed suit shortly, hitting both ends of a one-and-one to put the Eagles ahead, 77-69.
Edgewood's Keyon Williams hit a layup that turned it back into a two-possession game, but the Eagles closed things out by nailing three of six from the charity stripe.
"We just wanted to get the ball into Darryn or Jaleel's hands, because they're out best free-throw shooters," Brooks said. "That worked out, but I'd still like to see a little improvement in our decision making. We tend to lose our heads a little bit when things are close, and we start turning the ball over, or taking shots that we shouldn't. I'd like to see our basketball I.Q. get a bit better as the season moves on."
After a somewhat slow first half, Aberdeen went into the locker room at halftime holding a slim 27-25 lead. At the end of the third quarter, Aberdeen had pulled ahead, 54-47.
Ahead 71-63 at the 2:30 mark, Aberdeen watched as Edgewood's Harrison, Keyon Williams and Immanuel Gladden-Stokes hit back-to-back-to-back field goals to cut the Eagles' advantage down to 71-69. That would be as close at the hosts could get.
Gibson finished the game with a team-best 23 points, while Garner was right behind him with 22 points.
Harrison led all scorers with a 25-point effort, while Williams posted 20 points. Gladden Stokes had 14 points, and teammate Dorian Eure scored six points.
With the win, Aberdeen, in first place in the Chesapeake, improved to 8-4 overall, and 6-1 in upper-division matchups. Edgewood fell to 7-6 overall, and 3-4 against Chesapeake opponents.
Joppatowne trounces North Harford
Playing at home Friday night in a Chesapeake Division contest, the Joppatowne Mariners (10-4 overall, 6-2 Chesapeake) came away with a 56-35 win over North Harford (4-12 overall, 1-6 Chesapeake).
Joppatowne led, 30-7, at halftime.
Joppatowne's Gary Blackston had 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Khalil Gore posted 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in the victory, while fellow Mariner Will Veney had 11 points and eight rebounds. Jermaine Head Jr. netted eight points, dished out a team-high eight assists, and also led the Mariners in steals with five. Rashaad Gore had eight points, 10 rebounds and a team-best four blocks for Joppatowne.
North Harford's Zach Stike scored a career-best 14 points in the loss, while teammate Clayton Hood netted six points. Justin Asch led the Hawks in assists with four, and Andrew Klapka pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
John Carroll loses on road
The John Carroll boys saw their five-game win streak snapped Friday night, as the Patriots were beaten, 62-42, by host Mount St. Joe's.