A day before Lansdowne High School's boys basketball team played its season opener at Loch Raven, Vikings coach Greg Karpers raved about his team's depth and competitiveness at practice.
"In my 14 years here, 11 as varsity coach, we are by far the deepest team I've ever had," Karpers said. "Practice is extremely competitive."
That depth and desire proved to be too much for Loch Raven as the Vikings rolled past the Raiders, 60-42, Friday evening.
Lansdowne trailed 25-17 at halftime, but went on an 11-0 run to start the second half and take a 29-25 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
Two free throws by Loch Raven's Barry Lester stemmed the tide and senior Chris Adams (team-high 10 points) helped the Raiders get even at 33-33.
But a three-pointer by Lansdowne senior DeShawn Bell (12 points) pushed the Vikings ahead 36-33 with 3:30 left in the quarter and they never relinquished the lead.
The biggest sparkplug was sophomore DaQuan Williams, who scored 22 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including 12 in the third quarter.
"DaQuan is special," said Karpers, of the first year varsity player after a season on junior varsity. "He's been doing it in practice and I don't think the moment was too big. I just think he was trying to get comfortable, so in the second half he got out and we got him some breaks and some easy looks, and then from there he was able to hit some shots."
The open looks came all over the court for the Vikings in the third quarter, thanks to a tenacious defense that forced several turnovers and errant Loch Raven field goal attempts.
"We know we can play defense," Karpers said. "We know we can play intense halfcourt man-to-man and we told them that's how you are going to get on the court. You've got to be able to play man."
Lansdowne senior Bobby Peterson scored five of his nine points during the 11-0 run and juniors Antoine Jones and Kyndell Overton were dominant on the boards and with interior defense.
"Jones is just a lockdown defender," Karpers said. "We put him on anybody and he just locks them down."
In the first half, it was Loch Raven that dictated the pace by staying in its 2-1-2 zone and sending Lansdowne to the foul line when the Vikings penetrated.
It paid off because the Vikings made just 4 of 14 free throws in the first half.
Still, Lansdowne led 17-15 after a free throw by Darrius Purnell with 5:31 left in the first half, but the Raiders closed the half with an 8-1 run.
A three-pointer by Michael Johnson (7 points) started the surge.
Loch Raven added four free throws before a blocked shot by Johnson led to a fast-break basket by Dontrey George for a 23-18 lead with :38 left and a steal by Johnson set up another layup for George and 25-18 lead at intermission.
But that was a short-lived lead for first-year Loch Raven coach David Jones, whose team was overwhelmed by Lansdowne's defensive tenacity in the second half.
"We dictated the tempo in the second half rather than letting them do it," Karpers said.