I've said it several times already, so excuse me for repeating myself, but UCBAC boys basketball is no joke this season, seriously. That's not to say that past seasons have been dull, far from it, but there have been more tight games so far than in any year I can remember. Last night (I'm writing this on Thursday), Havre de Grace beat Bel Air by four points, two days before that Bel Air beat Fallston in overtime, and last Friday, Havre de Grace lost to Perryville by one point. Those are just three illustrative examples, because there's been a lot more, both in the Chesapeake (upper) and Susquehanna (lower) divisions. So, in taking a break from my "fun with numbers series," here's a mongrel column of sorts. I'm not going to do a power poll just yet, as there's a few games I want to see, but I will go through and give an assessment of each Harford County UCBAC team. Keep in mind, I'm listing the schools in alphabetical order, that's all.
Aberdeen: The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Eagles is their 57-56 victory over CMW on Dec. 20, when Aberdeen's Anthony Bennett hit a 60-foot game-winner at the buzzer, but there's more to them than that. Undefeated in Chesapeake Division play before Tuesday's loss to Edgewood, the Eagles have to tighten up, as another division defeat might put them out of the running. Their rubber match with Edgewood comes on Feb. 1, and I'm betting on that one to be pretty entertaining.
Bel Air: The Bobcats (3-1 Susquehanna) escaped with an overtime victory against Fallston on Monday, but then suffered a four-point loss to Havre de Grace on Wednesday. The biggest contest of Bel Air's season thus far comes tonight (Friday), when the Bobcats travel to play Perryville, which is undefeated in Susquehanna play at 4-0, and which handed Havre de Grace one one-point loss a week ago. If they come back from that one with a win, they'll be in great shape.
C. Milton Wright: It doesn't matter which year it is, I can count on the Mustangs giving me fits, because they always manage to do the opposite of what I predict. After starting the season with a 6-0 run, including a 49-46 win over North Harford to start Chesapeake Division play, the Mustangs have dropped three straight regular-season contests (including the one-point defeat to Aberdeen that I mentioned earlier), and now have a 1-3 division record. They will need to win the rest of their Chesapeake games, and even then they might already be out of the hunt.
Edgewood: The Rams (3-0 Chesapeake), who are the defending UCBAC champs, are my early pick to repeat as Chesapeake champs. They started off the new year on the right foot, beating North Harford by five points, then came through with a confident, 50-39 win over Aberdeen on Tuesday. Tonight's matchup with Patterson Mill should be telling, as the Huskies are sporting a matching 3-0 upper division record. I would bet on the Rams in that one. Also, as I said earlier, the Feb. 1, Aberdeen vs. Edgewood rematch should be a barn burner.
Fallston: Without a Chesapeake Division victory heading into Wednesday's game with CMW, the Cougars (1-2 Chesapeake) pulled out a no-doubt-about-it, 13-point victory over the visiting Mustangs. After the game, when I was talking to Fallston head coach Tim Lacock, I said something like, "CMW was no joke, they almost beat Aberdeen a few weeks ago," and he quickly pointed out, "we stuck right with Aberdeen when we played them, too. We might have had a chance if it weren't for a couple turnovers at the end." It was funny, and it was a reminder that the stat sheet you get at the end of the game doesn't tell you everything.
Harford Tech: After a couple of drubbings at the hands of Susquehanna Division opponents before the holiday break, the Cobras (1-2 Susquehanna) went on to beat both Perryville and Elkton at the Green-n-Gold Tournament, then earned their first division victory on Tuesday by knocking off Rising Sun. Their tournament play tells me the Cobras could be dangerous as the lower division schedule unfolds.
Havre de Grace: With their four-point victory over Bel Air on Wednesday, the Warriors (3-1 Susquehanna) jumped into a two-way tie for second place in the Susquehanna Division with the Bobcats. Perryville and Joppatowne lead the division with 4-0 records, but Joppatowne and Havre de Grace meet tonight, on the Mariners' home court. If that one swings the Warriors' way, the division race will get a bit more interesting.
Joppatowne: Heading into today's home matchup with Havre de Grace, the Mariners are sitting atop the Susquehanna Division standings at 4-0, tied with Perryville. They have been stomping all over their lower division opponents so far, and though they are my early pick to take the Susquehanna title, the Mariners have a tough stretch ahead of them. Tonight's game with Havre de Grace if followed by a matchup with Perryville on Tuesday, and that might very well be the pivotal game in the division race. Three days later, Joppatowne plays Bel Air.
North Harford: The Hawks (1-2 Chesapeake) have seen all three of their upper division contests decided by five points or less, including their most recent, low-scoring, 41-36 loss to top-ranked Edgewood. They beat Elkton by four and lost to CMW by three, so the Hawks are right in the mix of things, and would not be surprised if they put it together to knock off some of the teams vying for the Chesapeake title. They travel to play Aberdeen tonight, and I think that one will be interesting.
Patterson Mill: Talk about no joke, the Huskies (3-0 Chesapeake) have outscored their three upper division foes 189-104, and are right up at the top of the Chesapeake division standings. To capture their first Chesapeake crown, they're going to have to get past the Edgewood Rams, who they host tonight. I'm going to be there, and I'm not making any predictions on that one.