The Westminster Owls topped the St. Joseph's Blue Devils, 59-53, Sunday, to win the Carroll County Boys Basketball League's A Division Christmas Tournament at West Middle School.
In the tournament consolation game, the St. John's Eagles clinched third place, pulling away in the second half to top the Woodbine Rebels, 56-38.
The championship saw St. Joseph's play a tough game against a faster and stronger rebounding Westminster squad.
The Blue Devils managed to stay close by beating Westminster's full-court press to get quick baskets, and on the shooting of Kirk Robertson and Robert Onda, who scored 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Westminster's Jermaine Thornton led all scorers with 20 points, and Josh Hollman supported with 15.
The Owls threatened to break open the contest on several occasions, but could never quite pull away.
St. Joseph's led in the early going, holding a 13-11 margin in the opening minutes of the second quarter. That lead could have been greater, had the Blue Devils not turned the ball over 11 times at that point.
Two Robertson baskets put the Blue Devils ahead 17-13 midway through the second quarter. Westminster, though, went on a 9-2 spurt, during which Thornton's driving shot in the lane put the Owls ahead 18-17.
They would never be headed.
Three jump shots by Desmond Esteves allowed Westminster to take a 30-27 halftime lead. It dominated the early minutes of the third quarter, and two Thornton baskets pushed the Owls to a seven-point advantage, 38-31, with 4:40 remaining.
Robertson and Tim Chairs, though, hit shots to bring St. Joseph's back to 38-35. Using its rebounding and strong defense to deny the Blue Devils any inside shots, Westminster again stretched its lead to seven points, at 44-37 with about two minutes left in the third quarter.
But again on the verge of being knocked out of the game, St. Joseph's again clawed back. It scored six consecutive points, Mike Rabinovitz capping the spurt with a fast-break layup to narrow the gap to 44-43 with a minute left.
However, Westminster widened the lead, holding a 3 to 5 point margin until the Blue Devils again came close, at 50-48, with four minutes left in the game. But at that point in the game, Hollman gave his team a vital lift. He scored five consecutive points, including a key three-point play at 3:30, to put Westminster ahead 55-48.
St. Joseph's got no closer than three points the rest of the way.
The consolation match wasn't as tightly played.
St. John's roared to an early 17-4 lead, and then saw Woodbine narrow the gap to 26-22 at halftime.
The winners, though, quickly regained the momentum after intermission, outscoring the Rebels 30-16 in the second half.
Sean Davis, who scored 14 points in the game, paced a fast-breaking Eagles offense in the early part of the contest, scoring eight to lead them to the 17-4 margin early in the second quarter.
St. John's controlled the boards throughout the game.
Jeff Landow was in control under the basket most of the time.
Landow repeatedly beat his opponent down the floor and got in along the baseline for easy baskets even when the Rebels managed to get back on defense.
Woodbine, though, made things interesting in the second quarter. In the process, they recovered from a horrid start that saw them go 1-for-10 from the field.
Tom Crown, Aaron Dorsey and Eddie Harrison, who scored eight points to lead the team, paced the second-quarter comeback.
The Rebels outscored the suddenly foul-prone Eagles 18-9, scoring seven of their points from the foul line.
But St. John's started the second half the same way it had the first, and this time the Rebels wouldn't recover.
John Ritcey scored seven points, passed to Landow underneath for another basket, and Farver tacked on a three-point play, spearheading a 20-6 spurt. This surge put the Eagles safely ahead, 46-28, with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
The Rebels got no closer than 10 points thereafter.
Westminster edged St. John's, 49-48, in its semifinal game.
Hollman's 24 points paced the winner's attack. Landow scored 20 points for St. John's, and Davis added 12.
St. Joseph's qualified for the championship by ripping Woodbine, 46-28, in its semifinal.
Leading 11-5 after the first quarter, the Blue Devils extended their lead to 23-11 at halftime, and pulled steadily away thereafter.
Robertson, Chairs and Bryan Bandy had 11, 10 and eight points, respectively, for St. Joseph's.
Aaron Dorsey scored 10 for Woodbine, and Carl Craig had eight.
In an earlier tournament game, Woodbine nipped Gamber-Smallwood, 48-47. Crown paced a balanced attack with points, and Dorsey and Eddie Harrison added nine and seven, respectively.
Spike Krug scored 16 for Gamber, and Bryan Bollinger eight.
Westminster beat Winfield, 71-58, as Hollman paced the Owls with 28 points, and Taiwan Veney added 13.
Nathan Russell had 19 for Winfield, and Kevin Damiano added 12.
St. Joseph's topped Taneytown, 54-46, as Chairs and Donnell Rheubottom scored 15 and 11 points, respectively, for the Blue Devils.
Kevin DeCarlo scored 20 for Taneytown, and Vince Stonesifer had 11.
Taneytown upended Gamber-Smallwood, 67-57, as DeCarlo and Stonesifer paced the winner's attack with 24 and 17 points, respectively. Krug had 20 for Gamber.
Steve Bair scored 15 points and Garrett Sanner added 10 to lead North Carroll to a 46-37 win over Winfield.
Russell had 11 points for Winfield, and Jim Shea added six.