Catonsville faced a huge disadvantage in size in its Class 2A North quarterfinal game at rival Overlea last night, the Comets' tallest player standing 6 feet 2 against a Falcons' squad with four starters 6-4 or taller.
But that didn't matter against the visitors' pinpoint perimeter shooting and a crisp passing game that kept the Falcons off-balance and wore them down enough for the Comets to pull away, 64-54. Catonsville next plays at Eastern Tech in tomorrow night's regional semifinal.
"I thought Catonsville did a really good job of ball control and they controlled the tempo of the game and that's what did it," said Overlea coach Larry Nelson. "I noticed that Catonsville goes about nine or 10 deep on their bench, and our kids got a little tired around the middle of the third quarter."
Nelson knew all about the Comets' top scorer, Scott Clipp (26 points), a senior who went over the 1,000-point scoring mark earlier this year.
But the player from Catonsville (16-8) who surprised Nelson and perhaps hurt him the most was Justin Davis, who scored 17 points. Saying he "had the green light to let it fly," Davis sank five three-pointers, including three in the decisive third period when the Comets turned a three-point halftime lead (28-25) into a 48-39 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
"I've scouted this team a couple of times, but I've never seen him that hot," Nelson said, "but he got hot down in here, didn't he?"
That Davis did, offsetting a brilliant night by Overlea's 6-4 forward Antowan Bell (20 points), who nailed four three-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds, and Woody Boyd (14).
"I've had a rough couple of games, but I was told to stick with it," said Davis, who was 5-for-6 from three-point range. "One of their teachers used to teach at our school and said they'd come out cocky. I think we caught them a little flat."
Clipp scored his team's first 11 points in a first quarter that ended with Overlea (17-5) up 15-14, and scored eight more in the fourth period when he was 4-for-6 from the free-throw line (6-for-8 for the game). Clipp's third three-point play of the game gave the Comets one of their two 10-point leads with seven minutes to play. Twin brothers Anthony (10 points) and Michael Edwards (eight) also contributed for Catonsville.
"They had a lead on us early, but we don't get down when we get behind," said Clipp. "I thought they came out kind of lethargic. I think they overlooked us to be honest with you."
After Bell tied the game at 35 with his fourth and final three-pointer of the game, Catonsville closed the third period with a 13-4 run and never allowed the Falcons to pull closer than five points.
"Bottom line is we worried about Clipp so much, thinking they had no three-point shooters, but they hit a lot of threes and we didn't do anything to stop them," Bell said.