Boys basketball high school season review

The 2014-15 school year produced memorable moments, special teams and fine performances from both players and coaches in the high school sports beats I cover.

This week, I'm going to take a look at each of the three seasons -- boys and girls soccer in the fall, boys basketball in the winter and boys lacrosse this spring.


Here's a recap of the boys basketball season, which we'll start with a tribute to one of the area's greatest coaches.

Baltimore loses a basketball legend

By all accounts, former Loyola Blakefield coach Jerry Savage was a gentleman who never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything.

But when he was coaching, he was a fierce competitor who expected and got the most from his players.

On May 23, Savage passed away at the age of 77.

After a fine playing career at Mount Saint Mary's, where he scored 1,159 points and was inducted into the school's sports Hall of Fame, Savage eventually found his way to Loyola and spent parts of five decades as the Dons' head coach. In 35 years, he won 607 games and, more importantly, made a positive impact on everybody he came in touch with.

After retiring in 2003, he kept close tabs on the area's basketball scene, particularly the Baltimore Catholic League, which he played a vital role in developing in the early 1970s.

I was one of the many lucky ones who crossed paths with coach Savage. In recent years, he kept the weekly standings for the BCL and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and would often call me at the beginning of a given week to make sure our wins and losses matched up for each team.

Seeing him at games, soaking in his basketball wisdom and just being around him was always special.

Coach Savage, who was a charter member of the BCL Hall of Fame, left an inspiring mark on everybody.

The season's most dramatic finish

Calvert Hall junior foward Justin Gorham's left hand seemed to come out of nowhere.

The Cardinals trailed John Carroll, 52-51, in the closing seconds of the BCL title game and Gorham's responsibility was finding position for a possible rebound. When Nico Clareth's shot went off the iron, careening to the left of the rim, Gorham got to the ball first to tip home the championship-winning two points.

It had to be the most thrilling seconds at Towson University's SECU Arena since it opened in 2013.  The place was in a frenzy.


The 53-52 win completed an impressive sweep for the No. 1 Cardinals, who claimed the MIAA A Conference crown the week before.

Howard County's year to shine

Everything fell into perfect place for Oakland Mills and Centennial, which both claimed state championships.

For the first time, Howard County produced two champs in the same year.

After falling in the region title game four of the past five years, Oakland Mills finally advanced and the Scorpions were far from through.

The Scorpions capped their season with a, 64-55, win over Patterson to win the Class 2A crown and the program's second state title.  The first came 25 years before in 1990.

Will Robinson Jr., a transfer from St. Frances who went on to be named the Metro Player of the Year, saved his best ball for the playoffs and continually had an answer when the Scorpions needed one. The Scorpions had a fine group around him that played with the constant urgency needed to close a special season.

In claiming its first state crown, Centennial played much the same way with a senior group that blended well and played for each other.

The Eagles mostly leaned on Isaiah White, Tom Brown and Chad Strothers.  They also got a remarkable season-saving shot from Connor Clemens that willbe talked about for a long time.

Clemens put in a follow shot at the buzzer that gave the Eagles a thrilling, 48-47, win over River Hill to claim the Class 3A East region crown, paving the way. They went on to have an easier time in the state title game, beating Westlake, 57-43.

Rare occurances at the state tournament

Since the MPSSAA went to four classifications in boys basketball in 1961, there was never a season when all four champions came from the Baltimore metro area.

That was until this year. Meade (4A), Centennial (3A), Oakland Mills (2A) and New Town (1A) all claimed the top prize in their respective classifications to give the metro area an impressive sweep.

Even more stunning is the fact that none of the teams came from Baltimore City.

Just how dominant has Baltimore City been at the state tournament?

City teams had won multiple championships every year since being shut out in 2008 -- 14 from 2009 to 2014.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun