If Catonsville High’s boys basketball team could bottle what they did in the first quarter of Friday night’s game with visiting Kenwood and take it to the postseason they might be in for a long playoff run.
But, after scoring 24 points in the opening eight minutes and building a 24-10 lead, the Comets were held to 27 points the rest of the night and Kenwood rallied for a 61-51 victory.
“It has been a roller coaster all year,” Catonsville coach Matt Fannon said. “That has been our season. We get good wins against good teams and then we lay an egg the next game. Even within the games themselves, we will ride high for seven or eight minutes and then go cold.”
Kenwood had its own inconsistency in the first quarter when Catonsville spread the wealth in the scorebook.
Four different players, Eric Sheppard (12 points), Nate Chambers (5), Jake Getzendanner (10) and Ross Kidd (6) scored the first eight points as they forged ahead 8-0.
Kenwood didn’t break its drought until a layup by Michael Gillis with 4:26 left in the first.
“I didn’t know they were going to be that hot,” said Kenwood senior guard Greg Alexander. “That did kind of shock us a little bit.”
Catonsville extended it 1-3-1 defense beyond halfcourt and Chambers
was creating havoc on the point.
“We dared them to shoot the three,” Fannon said. “We like our 1-3-1. We did well the first quarter with it because they weren’t sure what to do. In the second quarter they knocked down a couple threes and in the third quarter they seemed like they were getting a lot of open looks and they couldn’t miss.”
Alexander, who was held scoreless in the first stanza, heated up in the second quarter with four points and the Bluebirds got three-pointers from Gillis, Devin Moseley and and Khyree Ward and cut the deficit to 34-25 at halftime.
But, in the second half, Alexander really took off as he scored 21 of his game-high 25 points.
He had 11 in the third quarter and Moseley added seven as the Bluebirds took a 46-43 lead at the break.
Defensively, Kenwood’s man-to-man defense picked up its intensity and held the Comets to just two field goals in the third quarter — a three-pointer by Alfonzo Church and layup by Church.
“We just focused in the second half,” Alexander said. “We had to play with more intensity.”
A layin by Church with 7:38 remaining cut the lead to 46-45 and a basket by Don Johnson gave the Comets a 47-46 lead that lasted until Jakeem Hailey put the Bluebirds on top, 48-47, with 5:15 remaining.
A free throw from Alexander pushed the Bluebirds ahead 49-47 before Johnson tied it at 49-49 with 4:45 left to play.
But a down-to-the-wire finish was not in the cards as the Bluebirds went on a 12-0 run and Sheppard’s basket with 28 seconds left was all the Comets could muster.
Catonsville switched to a man-to-man before the run and slowed the Bluebirds, but they were inconsistent at the offensive end.
“Once they built that lead we felt like we had to get out of it (zone) and contest a little bit better so we went to man," Fannon said. "I don’t think we did a terrible job with it, but we just couldn’t knock down shots. We started settling for threes instead of attacking the basket.”
Alexander was more than happy to see the man-to-man.
“That played right into it,” he said. “We got some baskets and we got layups and we got fouled. We got a lot of things.”
Greg Alexander 25, Devin Moseley 10, Michael Gillis 10, Jakeem Hailey 3, Khyree Ward 8, Mark Williams 3, Brandon Wade 2
FG 24 FT 8-19
Eric Sheppard 12, Jake Getzendanner 10, Alonzo Church 9, Ross Kidd 6, Amori Guadeloupe 5, Nate Chambers 5, Don Johnson 4
FG 20 FT 7-10