In first game of season, Glenelg Country uses big second half to beat Chapelgate in annual Route 40 Classic.
Locked in a tie game at the half against Chapelgate in his team's season opener on the road Monday night, Glenelg Country senior Darryl Williams thought back to a year earlier to drum up a little extra motivation.
Having watched the Yellowjackets come into their place at the beginning of last season and walk away with an eight-point victory, Williams wasn't about to let history repeat itself.
"I didn't want to lose, especially after last year, so it was just a matter of changing my mindset and adding more to the game," said Williams, who is the lone senior on the Dragons' roster this winter.
"We came out with the focus that I don't think we had in the first half and we just changed the whole game."
Williams went on to score 16 of his 20 points in the second half, sparking Glenelg Country on the way to a runaway 90-56 boys basketball win over Chapelgate (2-2).
As a team, the Dragons ended up with four guys in double figures. Williams, Josh Hightower (20 points), Anthony Longpre (18) and Matthew Bernetti (14) all had their moments of carrying the scoring load.
Afterward, it wasn't just the victory that had Glenelg Country coach Kevin Quinlan smiling — it was the dominant fashion in which his guys responded to Chapelgate's push to close the first half that tied the game at 30.
"I really didn't say anything to them at halftime … I think the guys just decided to get their act together," Quinlan said. "I reminded them about defense being the bedrock of our basketball program and I thought our defensive effort really picked up, which led to some easy baskets for a number of different guys."
Chapelgate did end up getting a couple big scoring efforts from Matthew Frierson (23 points) and Malik Grandy (17) in the losing effort. The problem was that once Glenelg Country got going in the third quarter, the Yellowjackets simply couldn't slow things down.
The Dragons managed 30 points in each of the final two periods.
"They shot really well and we didn't respond well to that," Chapelgate coach Frick Frierson said. "They were hitting jumpers, hitting threes and then the biggest thing that was consistent for them the whole game was their size and offensive rebounding. … That was the backbreaker, when they did miss a shot in the second half, they would just get a tip in and that prevented us from really getting any stops."
Quinlan said the effort down the stretch Monday will serve as a great point of reference going forward.
"I'm really glad the guys got a chance to see what the potential is when we are clicking on all cylinders … they know what we're capable of now," Quinlan said.
In addition to being a big rivalry game between the two local schools, the annual Route 40 Classic also serves as a fundraiser for the Helping Up Mission in Baltimore. This year's game, which drew a large crowd, raised over $400 according to Frick Frierson.
Glenelg Country had jumped out to a 17-6 lead in the opening six minutes on the strength of Longpre's play in the paint. The 6-foot-9 forward, who scored seven of the Dragons' first 10 points, ended up with a double-double with 10 rebounds to go along with his scoring.
But just as Glenelg Country looked poised to run away, Chapelgate managed an answer. Grandy and Seth Madden (7 points) scored a couple big baskets and then Frierson heated up, including sinking a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second quarter that tied the game.
It was that bounce-back effort, before things slipped away after the intermission, that Frick Frierson says his team will be trying to emulate going forward.
"We feel really good about our half-court offense and we were getting the shots we wanted in that second quarter," he said. "We ran a lot of different set plays and saw some good things there that, when we're making shots, are going to be successful for us."
Glenelg Country 90, Chapelgate 56
GC (1-0): Williams 20, Hightower 20, Longpre 18, Bernetti 14, Burnett 6, Walsh 6, Tverijonas 4, Wilson 2.