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Boys Basketball: Gerstell notches historic win over Winters Mill

When the final horn sounded, Gerstell Academy students rushed onto the floor and celebrated with the school's boys basketball team.

Gerstell's first boys basketball game against a Carroll County Public Schools was one worth remembering.

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Sophomore Khyle Washington's two free throws with 12 seconds remaining led Gerstell to a historic 58-56 win over Winters Mill Friday night at Paterakis Athletic Center. This was Gerstell's first boys basketball win over a Carroll County Public Schools program.

The Gerstell boys are playing CCPS teams for the first time this year. The boys and girls basketball games against Winters Mill will be an annual occurrence. The victors receive the Battle of the Birds trophy. Both schools have Falcon mascots.

The kickoff to this new rivalry against schools just six miles apart ended with Gerstell (6-3) players posing for cellphone photos with the trophy.

"Just a big win for us," Gerstell senior captain Luke Gardner said.

Gerstell coach Ben Thompson added four games against CCPS schools this year to show his program can be competitive against anyone in the area.

Despite having three freshmen and one sophomore on the roster, Gerstell showed it is capable of doing just that.

Washington, who moved to the area from Atlanta earlier this year, sealed the victory with his two foul shots. His first bounced off the rim twice and in. His second swished through the net, prompting most members of the Gerstell student section to jump and cheer.

Twelve seconds later, after a missed 3-pointer by Winters Mill's Braedon Dorsey, the Gerstell students rushed onto the floor.

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Former Winters Mill forward Rashad Woodyard watched the celebration from his first-row seat in the visiting bleachers. When asked if he wished he could have played in this rivalry, he said "of course."

Victorious Gerstell coaches and players viewed this as a landmark victory for a developing program.

"It's been great to see the progress we have made and just how well the community has supported us," said Gerstell coach Ben Thompson, who had to yell to be heard over the celebrating student body.

Washington had a team-high 15 points for Gerstell. Gardner had 13 points and junior Blake Bissen had 11.

After trailing by two at the end of the first quarter, Gerstell rallied with four 3-pointers in a 23-point second quarter outburst. Winters Mill (1-1) was able to rally in the fourth quarter. Senior Keon Claiborne's lay-in gave Winters Mill a 56-54 lead with two minutes left.

Claiborne had a game-high 26 points and nine rebounds.

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But Gerstell scored the game's final four points, including those two Washington free throws.

"Tough shots," Thompson said.

Despite the loss, Claiborne said the atmosphere was one of the best he has experienced as a Falcon. A sizable Winters Mill student section packed the visiting bleachers.

"It was great being part of a game with two programs that haven't played before," Claiborne said. "It's historic."

While Luke Gardner posed for a photo with the trophy, Thompson glanced around his school's gym. Students were cheering. His players were accepting congratulations.

Thompson couldn't stop smiling.

Gardner, surrounded by white-clad Gerstell students, said this was a landmark moment for his team.

"We are trying to start a tradition here," he said.

Gerstell (58): Khyle Washington 15, Luke Gardner 13, Blake Bissen 11, Tyler Tillery 8, Jake Gardner 6, Evan Paterakis 3, Dylin Borden 2.

Winters Mill (56): Keon Claiborne 26, Bradley Witt 9, Dimeon Wright 8, Braedon Dorsey 7, Wes Martin 2, Tre Woodyard 2, Spencer Eysaman 2.

Halftime: Gerstell, 36-31.

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