North County senior Shawn Lilly and sophomores Rodney Wilkerson and O’Meech Wilson combined for 14 steals to lead a strong defensive effort in the Knights’ 53-42 victory over Catonsville (0-2) in the opening game at the IAABO Board 23 Challenge tournament at the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.
The tournament, which featured five games on Saturday, supports the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
“Our defense has to dictate the tempo,” North County coach Trumaine Johnson said. “It actually turns into our offense as well.”
The defense came up big after Catonsville senior Ben Hall (six points) pulled the Comets within two, 41-39, after canning a three-pointer with 3:42 left in the game.
It was the only three-pointer the Comets made all day and the Knights responded with an 8-0 run that salted the game away.
Patrick Edwards started the run by finishing a fast break.
Wilkerson (11 points, five steals) made two free throws and a field goal with 1:45 left to push the lead to 47-39 and a steal and layup by Kyle Silver upped the advantage to 49-39 with 1:20 left and the Knights (1-1) coasted home.
“We have a lot of speed an athleticism and we are definitely very young this year,” Johnson said.
That athleticism was able to neutralize the Comets’ height advantage.
“We haven’t seen any team that big,” Johnson said.
The only Comet who flexed his leaping ability was 6-foot-5 junior KJ Spruill (team-high 12 points), who flushed down a pair of dunks in the second half to ignite the crowd.
His second dunk, with 7:05 left in the final quarter, made the score 35-32 and he followed that with a fast-break bucket after a pass from Caleb Owens making it 35-34 with 6:36 remaining.
The Knights countered with a 6-0 run.
They got three points from Wilson (nine points, seven rebounds) a putback by Lilly (11 points, five steals) and a free throw by Jaiden Ballard (seven points, 10 rebounds) before the Comets fought back under first-year coach Dennis Keihm.
North County 53
Shawn Lilly 11, Rodney Wilkerson 11, O’Meech Wilson 9, Patrick Edwards 8, Jaiden Ballard 7, Kyle Silver 4, Deandre Lewes-Perez 2, Carson Lowman 1.
KJ Spruill 12, Khali Davis 9, Tiree Holmes 8, Ben Hall 6, Caleb Owens 4, Mark Brady 2, Nate McMahon 1.