FINKSBURG — Gerstell’s boys basketball team has big goals in sight as the regular season winds down and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs inch closer.
The reigning MIAA B Conference champions want another title, and coach Ben Thompson said much of the team’s success will rely on the senior leadership if the Falcons want to remain competitive down the stretch.
That leadership was evident Wednesday at Paterakis Activities Center as the Falcons used a 14-0 second-quarter run to make quick work of Chapelgate Christian Academy and defeat the Yellowjackets 83-49.
Seniors Malachi Darden and Anthony Carpenter combined for 35 points — Darden scored 17 and Carpenter had 18. Fellow senior Tyler Tillery contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, and three steals for the Falcons (18-12, 12-3 MIAA B).
“I think its really important because we have a lot of key guys that can put the ball in the hoop and a lot of people who can score and dribble,” Carpenter said. “It’s important when one person gets going because the rest of the team gets going. Once we see the ball go through the hoop, it gets the team is going and it boosts our confidence.”
Carpenter, Darden, Tillery, and teammates Kevin Malone and Lamont Jackson are the team’s five seniors who were each honored prior to tip-off. The boys were each given sticks with enlarged photos of their faces on it to carry after the game, and they posed for pictures with family and friends at center court.
Falcons coach Ben Thompson said Carpenter and Tillery have been starters since they were freshmen, and they have accomplished a lot over the years with this program.
“That’s a lot of games, a lot of wars fought, a lot of ups and downs of them,” Thompson said. “They put it together last year and won a championship and it took a lot of hard work. With that being said, when you have those kinds of guys in your locker room, that’s key.”
Gerstell never trailed against Chapelgate (6-23, 1-14), thanks to a quick 9-0 run to open the first quarter. The Falcons led 18-9 after one and increased that lead to 27-9 before Chapelgate’s Jax Felder’s layup ended the run. The teams scored 18 points apiece in the second quarter, but the Falcons remained on top and carried a 36-27 lead into the break.
Gerstell held the Yellowjackets to just eight points in the third quarter and used a 7-0 run to build a 62-35 lead at the end of the frame. Darden scored seven of his 17 points in the third.
A pair of free throws from Felder sparked a 7-0 run early in the fourth quarter for Chapelgate. Carpenter responded, though, with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to put the Falcons up by 26.
Gerstell scored the final six points of the game to secure the win.
The Falcons held onto second place in the conference with other MIAA B action going on Wednesday. First-place St. Paul’s (13-2) clipped St. John’s Catholic Prep in overtime, while third-place Severn (10-5) fell in OT against Indian Creek.
The Falcons have now won three straight games and have a big matchup set for Friday against conference foe Archbishop Curley.
“Obviously we want to be playing a little bit better and a little bit sharper right now, but we’re tracking well,” Thompson said. “We’ve gone on a good run here the last few weeks. We face our struggles just like any other team does and we’re used to that, they’re used to that. They went through these the last three years to try to pace the season out ...”