When Gerstell Academy’s boys basketball team dropped a pair of Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference games in early February last season, it’s possible the idea of winning a championship by the end of the month was somewhat far-fetched.
The Falcons didn’t let the losses get them down, however, and finished the season with a six-game winning streak. They capped it by beating Severn, a team which had toppled Gerstell a few weeks earlier, 62-53 in the MIAA B final and gave the program its first boys basketball crown.
Now, the Falcons are out to add another one despite getting off to a slow start this season.
Gerstell finished 20-10 last winter and won six more games than the previous season. The Falcons graduated two big pieces of their championship squad in guard Colin Rimel and forward Brad Witt — Rimel earned Times first-team all-county honors last year; Witt made second team.
Fifth-year coach Ben Thompson returns senior guard Anthony Carpenter, however, who was the team’s second leading scorer last year at 10.3 points per game. Carpenter can get to the rim, Thompson said via email, and has improved his jump shot to become a more complete offensive player.
Carpenter sank 32 percent of his 3-pointers last season and made 77 percent of his free throws.
He should get some help from sophomore guard Ahmad Harrison, who averaged 9.5 points and 2 steals per game as a freshman. Harrison scored 20 points in Gerstell’s 47-46 loss to McDonogh on Nov. 30.
The backcourt play should lead to better looks inside, Thompson said, and senior forward Tyler Tillery could be poised to pile up double-doubles this winter.
Gerstell started 1-4 before beating Chesapeake 65-61 in overtime last Friday night at Paterakis Athletic Center. Carpenter led the Falcons with 18 points, and Harrison scored 13 while sophomore swingman Dayyan Noble netted 10.
“The Falcons play a very challenging schedule with a high mix of MIAA A Conference opponents,” said Thompson, whose team is set to travel to Richmond, Virginia in late December for the annual Benedictine Capital City Classic.
The bulk of Gerstell’s MIAA B slate picks up from there, and Thompson said the Falcons “should contend for back-to-back titles.”
Gerstell’s girls team is coming off a 12-10 season, and coach Shane Stem has a veteran trio of leaders in seniors Tyra Echevarria, Gabby Manning, and Rachel Talbot. But the Falcons opened the season 1-3 after Friday’s loss to Liberty, a game in which they committed 37 turnovers in defeat.
Stem is looking to replace last year’s leading scorers in the graduated Jillian Wilson (9.6 ppg) and Kymiah Carpenter (6.6). Wilson also averaged 8.8 rebounds.
Echevarria looks to be one of the go-to players on offense — she led the Falcons with 14 points against Liberty.
“We are full members of the IAAM B conference and hope to host a playoff game this season,” Stem said via email.
Gerstell’s wrestling team is coached by Dennis Frazier, and the Falcons have eight grapplers on their roster. Winning dual meets might be a challenge, but Frazier said his first year should go well based on the team’s mat experience.
Antonio Holland (182/195 pounds) is the lone senior, but Frazier said via email Gerstell has three wrestlers entering their third year. And all eight have at least one year on the varsity. Junior Grant Abbott (152/160), Sam Koyfman (220/285), and Rami Tados (145/152) are all three-year performers.
“I believe everyone will have a winning record at the end of the year,” said Frazier, whose squad begins Dec. 12 against St. Mary’s.
The boys basketball team took a 3-3 record into a weekend tournament at Faith Christian Academy in Martinsburg, West Virginia. And with Carroll posting an 8-17 record last winter, the Patriots are poised to improve.
Carroll coach Jon Andrews, now in his fourth year, lost second-team all-county pick Joshua Mathews (13 ppg, 10 rpg) but returns junior Josiah Albaugh (12.4 ppg) and junior Sean Goldsmith (8.3 ppg).
The Patriots have just two seniors, Matt Badorf and Matt Maldonado, but Andrews said via email they’re ready to compete after going 2-8 in the Maryland Association of Christian Schools Athletic Conference last year.
“Young and hungry,” he said. “Team loaded with young talent that loves to play together and wants to win.”
Meanwhile, Carroll Christian’s girls team carried a 6-0 record (2-0 MACSAC) into the Martinsburg tourney this weekend.
Camille Echegoyen had 15 points and 11 steals in Carroll’s 46-25 victory over Harford Christian last Tuesday, while Sydney Wooden added 12 points.
Wooden is a senior guard and one of the Pats’ leaders, and newcomer Berkeley Cooke should complement fellow junior Echegoyen as a backcourt tandem.