The Gamber-Smallwood Gators hung on to edge the St. Joseph's Blue Devils, 42-41, Sunday afternoon at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown to win the Carroll County Boys Basketball League's A Division Holiday Tournament.
Westminster defeated North Carroll, 50-25, in the tourney's consolation game, to finish third in the nine-team field of seventh- and eighth-graders.
In the title game, Gamber center Jerry Webb hit two foul shots with 23 seconds left for the winning points.
St. Joseph's, behind the shooting of Bryan Burke, who scored all of his nine points in the second half, had pulled ahead 36-31 earlier in the final quarter after overcoming the 23-14 lead the Gators had built midway through the second quarter.
Those early minutes were often frantic, with each team going on fast breaks for easy baskets.
Forward Steve Flora and Webb, who led Gamber with 17 and 14 points, respectively, each hit layups to put the Gators ahead 6-2.
Then Ryan Pagels, who would lead the Devils with 13 points, scored on a baseline drive and follow-up of his own missed shot to put them back in front 9-8.
Kyle Swinton's 20-footer put the Eldersburg-based squad up 11-8 before Flora curled in a short right-handed hook shot to tie it at 13 and then took a pass from Webb for a layup to put Gamber ahead 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The latter play became a staple for the Gators, as Webb and Flora chewed up the St. Joseph's defense by passing to each other for easy inside baskets.
Outside shooting was in vogue for Gators the first few minutes of the second quarter.
Brett Ebersole made a 10-footer from the right baseline and Aaron Krug scored from 18 feet as the Gators made four of five shots for the game's biggest lead, 23-14.
But the Devils regained momentum in the final minute of the half with Brad Mercier's driving shot in the lane and Pagels two baskets cutting the lead to 23-20 at intermission.
St. Joseph's continued the pressure in the third quarter and Gamber went cold in that stanza, going only 2-8 from the field with five turnovers.
Bryan Burke's two free throws tied the score at 25, and his 15-footer from the left side put St. Joseph's up 27-25.
The Blue Devils led 31-27 entering the final quarter.
There, the Devils seemed to be taking control when Burke's three-point play put them up 36-31 with five minutes left.
But they would hit only two of nine shots the rest of the way and turn the ball over four times.
Meanwhile, Gamber's Flora made a three-pointer after being fouled while laying the ball up and later tied it at 36 on a driving shot down the lane with four minutes remaining.
Flora then fed Webb for two layups, and the center's foul shots made it 42-38, Gamber, with 23 seconds left.
Pagels' free throw and Ryan Renehan's layup made it close in the final moments, but Gamber managed to get the ball out of its own end in the final seconds and run out the clock.
The consolation opener was decided long before the final buzzer.
Westminster's 20-2 run starting midway through the second quarter help to decide the game.
But the early minutes were close with the Panthers very much alive.
Owls center Mike DePinto put his team up 12-9 with two free throws near the end of the first quarter, and Billy Mays made it 16-11 Westminster, early in the second.
North Carroll though, clawed back to 16-15 4:33 before the half on Mark Cutair's layup and Jason Wingert's two foul shots.
Westminster then missed four consecutive shots and went scoreless for almost two minutes.
But trailing only 16-15, the Panthers stalled, missing two free throws and several close-in shots at the basket.
Westminster recovered and scored the next 17 points.
With 2:46 left in the first half DePinto, who had re-entered for Westminster, hit two foul shots and then a three-point play to key a 23-15 halftime lead.
The Owls continued the rout in the third quarter as guard Tim Frame hit a driving shot and dished off for two more baskets.
PePinto hit a layup to make it 33-15 before Dave Nowicki broke Westminster' 17-point run with a foul shot.
The Westminster lead had balloned to 38-17 in the fourth quarter when Nowicki hit North Carroll's first basket in almost two quarters with 5:14 left.
Westminster cruised the rest of the way, led by DePinto's game-high 20 points. Sean Love, Frame, and Desmond Esteves each added six.
In other tournament games, Winfield topped Woodbine, 36-19, as Darren Snyder paced the winners with 10 points and Matt Steppling added seven.
St. John thumped Taneytown, 41-15, as Brandon Bollinger led the winners with 15 points. Vince Stonesifer also had 15 for Taneytown.
Eventual champ Gamber-Smallwood topped North Carroll, 46-31, as Flora and Webb paced the Gators with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Justin Malbrough and Jason Wingert each had eight for North Carroll.
Taneytown stopped Union Bridge, 41-34, behind Vince Stonesifer's 17 points and eight by Kory Jenkins.
Ryan Landy had 16 for Union Bridge.
Gamber-Smallwood beat Union Bridge, 50-19, as Webb score22 points.
Josh Hollman had nine for Union Bridge and Andy Hummel, five.
St. Joseph's topped Winfield, 45-25, with Kyle Swinton leading the winners with 14 points and Ryan Renehan adding seven.
Matt Steppling had six for Winfield.
To submit Carroll County recreation information, call (410) 225-4574.