Andrew Wright was a dominant factor at both ends of the court, and Dwight Banks came off the bench to provide scoring and rebounding strength down the stretch as City achieved a milestone it did not reach a year ago.
When the Knights defeated Dundalk (4-3), 58-53, in the first round of the Joppatowne tournament last night, it sent their record to 4-2. A year ago, the team won just three games.
In a Harford County matchup in the second game, Joppatowne (5-0) rode a 14-4 burst in the final three minutes of the third period to a 66-59 victory over Havre de Grace (4-2).
The Mariners broke away from a tie at 36 with a 14-4 burst and a 50-40 lead after three periods. Mosy of the baskets camed off transition, as the home team capitalized on some quickness by Darnell Everett and Alonzo McDowell and the height advantage of 6-foot-6 Chris Gephardt, who had a game-high 18 points. Ardia White scored 17 for the Warriors.
'It's maturity," City College's third-year coach Wayne Cook said of his free-wheeling squad. "Most of the players are seniors who are second-year starters."
This turned out to be a balanced effort for the city school, with Wright, a 6-6 senior, leading the way with 16 points and solid rebounding. Guard Corey Simpson and forward Matthew Taylor added 12 points each, and Banks had 20, six in the last quarter.
"I told the kids beforehand, I wanted them to penetrate, get the ball to Andrew," Cook said. "We are a little short-handed right now, and this was only his second start.
"We wanted Banks in there for his rebounding, and he did a good job. It has taken him a while to adjust after football -- and this is his first year out for basketball, too -- and he's getting better. He likes to go inside and we needed him for his rebounding."
After City bolted to an 11-2 edge, Dundalk rallied behind Jason Bandy, building a 22-15 lead with three minutes left in the half. The Knights came back for a 25-24 halftime advantage.
Dundalk stayed close in the third quarter, getting ties at 36 and 40, before baskets by Corey Simpson and Taylor made it 44-40.
The Baltimore County school got no closer than two points in the last eight minutes, the last time at 52-50 with a little more than three minutes to go. Banks converted a pass from Wright and Taylor hit from the corner, and it was 56-50 going to the final minute.
The Owls contributed to their downfall by missing seven consecutive shots down the stretch.
"We are missing some players, and right now we're learning to adjust to certain things," said Dundalk coach Andy Pons.
His regular point guard is out, and Travis Thornton is more comfortable on the wing than running the offense. The Owls just never got into their half-court offense, one that had been effective in staying close to Woodlawn earlier.