Hawks rally past Catonsville
Second half key to victory for men’s hoops team
After opening the sea- son with a difficult stretch of games designed to ben- efit the team in the long run, the College of Southern Maryland men’s basketball team broke open a tight contest late in the second half en route to a 97-93 victory over Com- munity College of Balti- more County Catonsville on Monday night in a Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference con- test.
CSM (2-5, 2-1 MDJU- CO) and Catonsville (52, 1-2) remained close throughout much of the second half as the Hawks lead hovered around three points for the open- ing 10 minutes. Even a three-point field goal by CSM’s David Francis was immediately countered by one from Catonsville’s Montague Wright which kept the Cardinals within 69-66 with nine minutes left.
But the Hawks finally gained some breathing room courtesy of a 10-3 run that gave the hosts an 85-73 lead with four minutes remaining. CSM head coach Alan Hoyt, a Great Mills High School graduate, had already seen his team squander a 16-point lead in a loss at Potomac State (W.Va.) and an eight-point lead in a setback to Garrett Community College, so he began to get a little un- easy when the Cardinals mounted a late rally.
“We were up by 16 at Potomac State with about four minutes left and let that one get away,” Hoyt said. “Then we had an eight-point lead against Garrett in the second half and couldn’t put them away either. Tonight we had to find a way to finish. We probably could have made a few more free throws toward the end.”
CSM owned a 45-43 advantage at the intermission thanks to a healthy advantage at the freethrow line, which only widened as the game progressed.
The Hawks connected on 17 of 27 free throws (63 percent) in the first half, compared to the Cardinals going 5 of 10 in the opening 20 minutes. Those numbers were almost identical in the second half. CSM hit 17
of 27 free throws in the second half as well, while the Cardinals were 8 of 16 from the line over the last 20 minutes. The Hawks hit 34 of 54 foul shots (63 percent) on the night, compared to the Cardi- nals’ 13 of 26 shooting at the stripe.
Yet, after the Hawks traded baskets with the Cardinals over the next three minutes and still owned a 95-83 lead with less than a minute to play, the hosts nearly allowed the visitors to grab victory from the jaws of defeat.
Everette Coker connect- ed on a three-point field goal and Wright added another and Coker added a tap-in off a missed free throw to bring Catonsville to within 96-93 with nine seconds remaining.
Levon Randall, a Thom- as Stone High School graduate from Waldorf, then hit the second of two free throws to give the hosts a four-point lead with 5.6 seconds left and Catonsville failed to get off another shot. But the last minute of the contest had seemed too eerily similar to previous outings that CSM failed to secure.
“For a few minutes there it was getting too close for comfort,” Hoyt said. “We needed to make another free throw or two. We also had to stop fouling and turning the ball over. We’re a young team and we’re getting better. We have a lot of talent on this team, but we’re still young. Those early games against real- ly good opponents got us ready for game like this tonight.”
Trevon Porter, a Great Mills High School graduate from Lexington Park, got to the free-throw line often in the first half for CSM, hitting on 6 of 8 from the stripe, while Dominic Espeleta, a West- lake High School graduate from Waldorf, and Randall each hit a threepoint field goal in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, Espeleta, Francis and Anthony Williams, a North Point High School graduate from Waldorf, each made four free throws and Francis added his lone three-pointer of the night.
During the pivotal 10-3 run that enabled the Hawks to forge their first of four 12-point leads, An- tonio Tavares, a Huntingtown High School graduate from Chesapeake Beach, scored two buckets inside and Jordan Battle, a Thomas Stone High School graduate from Waldorf, added a bucket and two free throws.
Catonsville also watched three of its starters foul out during a 75-second span late in the second half, but it nearly pulled off an improbable rally without them.