Using an active press and transition game in the second half the Catonsville boys basketball team broke open a close game at halftime and rolled to a 68-53 victory over visiting Overlea on Friday night.
Leading 30-25 at halftime, the Comets (10-6) outscored the Falcons 26-9 in the third quarter for a 56-34 lead.
They stretched the lead to 26 points, 66-40, midway through the fourth quarter, before the Falcons cut the deficit in the final four minutes.
Catonsville senior Ross Kidd scored 15 points and had eight rebounds to lead the Comets (10-6) to their seventh win in eight games and fifth in a row.
Nate Chambers and Shawn Wagstaff (11 points each) and Jake Getzendanner (10 points, 5 rebounds) also scored in double figures.
Catonsville’s defense was stellar as Don Johnson had four steals and Amori Guadaloupe and Wagstaff added three each.
Chambers added six rebounds and two steals and was 7-for-10 from the free throw line.
“I like to shoot and I like to drive, but when I get to the free throw line, I’ve just got to capitalize any time I get,” Chambers said.
Chambers made three free throws in the first quarter, but the game was tied 8-8 after a follow shot by Overlea’s Deryrn Diggs with 2:30 left in the first quarter.
Johnson’s free throw gave the Comets a 9-8 lead and a running floater and fastbreak layup with two seconds left by Getzendanner gave the Comets a 13-8 lead at the break.
“We needed something to spark the team,” Getzendanner said. “The other team just came in dunking before the game, so we just needed to shut them down and we needed a couple big plays out of our leaders.”
In the second quarter, a pair of three-pointers off the bench by senior Mark Wall sparked the Comets and a three-pointer by Getzendanner gave them a 30-24 lead.
After a free throw by Overlea’s Jaien McMillian cut the lead to five, neither team scored in the final 2:09 of the first half.
Chambers knew the Comets could play better.
“They surprised us,” Chambers said. “We came out flat and slow, we weren’t hitting shots and we were letting little plays like loose balls get away and not boxing out, but we got it together in the second half.”
Wagstaff scored seven points and Chambers and Kidd scored six each in the third quarter.
The press set up most of the points.
“We anticipated way more passes than we did in the first half,” Chambers said. “We were getting all the loose balls, boxing out and getting rebounds and just getting out on the break. That’s how we turned it up.”
“In the first half we came out dry,” he said. “In the second half we came out ready to play.”
After having some explosive early scoring quarters earlier in the season, the Comets are starting to have productive third quarters during their hot streak.
“In the past four or five games the guys have really come out fired up [in the secnd half],” Catonsville coach Matt Fannon said. “Shawn played really well up top and I thought Amori stepped in and played really well. Both of them forced a lot of turnovers and that is what built our lead.”
Guadaloupe scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter and remained until the end, while the rest of the Comet starters rested for most of the fourth quarter.
Fannon was happy to see that after the Comets were sluggish at the start.
“They (Overlea) came out intense,” Fannon said. “I thought they shot the ball in the first half. They were crashing the boards and we really weren’t hitting our shots and just kind of came out cold.”
Dwuan Lewis (8 points), Eric Lipscomb (7) and Byron Staton (7) led Overlea.
Fannon liked the way his team closed out the game early in the second half.
“We are finishing, we’re making free throws, sometimes when it counts, we’re making shots and we are being smart when we have a lead,” said Fannon, noting the Comets blew leads to Dundalk and Mount Hebron earlier in the season. “I think we are just finishing games now and getting more confident.”