It has been a long, long time since I posted a boys basketball power poll in this column space. I got out of the habit about two years ago, when nearly every column that I wrote during the basketball and baseball seasons was devoted to ranking the Harford County teams from best on down, because it was getting a little stale. People like lists, I realize this, but doing them over and over again is no good, so I quit. And, lest you think I'm going to start back up now, this week's installment is being used to look at the boys basketball divisional races, and maybe to make some predictions. Here is what we have thus far, a little less than halfway through the season.
It is much too early to say with any certainty whether Joppatowne is going to win the Chesapeake (upper) Division, but, with a perfect 4-0 division mark, and having knocked off Aberdeen on Tuesday, the Mariners are the team to beat right now. They haven't been walking all over the opposition, as three of their four Chesapeake victories have been by seven points or less, but that just shows me they're a resilient team. What's more, the Mariners are the newest addition to the upper division, having been bumped up from the Susquehanna last season after a perfect 14-0 campaign. I know it has happened in other sports, but the only time I can remember a newly-promoted team winning the Chesapeake Division race was when Havre de Grace pulled it off back in the 2009-2010 season (that one came down to the last day of the schedule, with Havre de Grace beating C. Milton Wright to clinch the title. Very exciting). It would be fantastic to see something like that happen again, but the Mariners still have to play eight more division games, so anything could occur in that time. Key games are going to be the Feb. 4 matchup with Patterson Mill, and the Feb. 12 contest with Aberdeen.
Behind the Mariners in the division standings you have Aberdeen (3-1), Patterson Mill (3-2), C. Milton Wright (2-2), Fallston (1-2), Edgewood (0-2) and North Harford (0-4). Starting from the back and going forward, North Harford is probably out of the running at this point, but that doesn't mean the Hawks can't play spoiler at some point down the road. Had they put together a better first half on Tuesday night in their game against Patterson Mill, the North Harford boys might have been in position for an upset, but the game ended as a 44-36 loss. That's not such a bad final score when you consider Patterson Mill led 24-8 at halftime.
Edgewood has only played two division games, one with Aberdeen and the other with CMW, and both were losses, so I can't say a whole bunch about the Rams at this point. The two-time defending Chesapeake and UCBAC title holders had better get in gear though, because another division loss would make it very tough for them to stay near the top of the standings.
Fallston's record is a very good indicator of how competitive things are in the Chesapeake. A 1-2 division start isn't very impressive, but those two losses came against Patterson Mill and Aberdeen, and both times the Cougars were only three points behind. A pair of three-point losses at the hands of the division's front-running teams. That has a bit more cachet to it.
The CMW team, which used to give me terrible trouble every week when I was making power polls, is still a tough one to make predictions about. A triple-overtime loss to Patterson Mill on Monday was followed by a 12-point win over defending conference champ Edgewood 24 hours later. And, you also have a three-point loss to Joppatowne back on Dec. 13. The Mustangs can hang with anyone in the Chesapeake, apparently.
Patterson Mill, which has been in the race for the Chesapeake every season since it joined that division, got back on track this week with back-to-back wins on Monday and Tuesday. Since the Huskies were close in their Jan. 6 loss to Joppatowne (54-50), I'm eagerly awaiting the Feb. 4 rematch, which, if my guesses are correct, should be very important as to how the division race shakes out.
Aberdeen's only division loss thus far was the aforementioned Tuesday defeat at the hands of Joppatowne. Other than that, the Eagles have knocked off Edgewood, Patterson Mill and Fallston. All of those victories have come by 11 points or less, which is another indicator of how tight things are in the Chesapeake.
Next week, I'll get to the Susquehanna Division.