Coming back from the holidays
Cavaliers overcome shaky start to top Panthers
After Patuxent’s BJ Parker knocked down a three-pointer with 4 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter on Friday night, the Panthers led their visitors — county rival Calvert — 38-30.
That was the pinnacle of the night for the Panthers, as the Cavaliers outscored Patuxent 3015 from that point to grab a 60-53 victory in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division boys basketball contest.
“Coming back from the holi- days is the best way to say it,” said Calvert’s Ryan Rachic, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Cavaliers to the road win. “We were kind of shaking off some cookies and getting back into it. I think it was a good start with the atmosphere and how we came back in the second half. I think it a good lesson and a good teaching point for us.”
Calvert (4-3, 1-0 SMAC Chesapeake) held a 14-13 advantage at the end of a quarter, but never could build a sizable working lead against Patuxent (0-7, 0-1). With Rachic and Liam Aris combining to push the Cavaliers to a 6-2 run to open the second quarter, Calvert opened up a 20-15 lead. The Panthers hung tight and took a 31-28 lead into the locker room after Chris Fenwick’s three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left broke a 28-28 tie.
While the first half may not have gone as Calvert head coach Jeremy Kurutz would have preferred, it was exactly the type of game he expected.
“This is the 10th year coming down here for me, and it’s skin of your teeth every time down here,” he said. “We know they’re going to bring their best. They’re going to shoot their best against us down here. They played a heck of a game. It’s what I expected. My guys played hard, too, but when the other team steps up what are you going to do? You just have to keep plugging through it.”
Having struggled from long range in the first half, Calvert made a more concerted effort to drive to the hoop in the second half. But Patuxent opened the third quarter on a 6-2 run, with Parker’s three extending the
Panthers’ lead to eight.
Calvert came right back with a Melvin Davis basket to close to within six. Patuxent followed up with a shot clock violation on its next trip down the floor and the wheels seemed to come off for the hosts from that point.
Rachic scored on the Cavaliers’ next possession to continue what was a 14-4 Calvert run to end the period. Back-to-back threes from Davis and Aris in the quarter’s final minute put the visitors in front 44-40 before a buck-
et by Patuxent’s Noah Bibb pulled the Panthers back to within two at quarter’s end.
The Cavaliers’ momentum continued into the final quarter as they opened the frame on a 14-3 surge to push their advantage to 58-45 with 2:51 remaining. Davis scored eight points, including a three-pointer and a traditional threepoint play, in the fourth to spearhead Calver’s closing effort.
“We figured out the defense we had to play to stop their guys,” Davis said of the team’s second-half effort. “We just had to take away [Fenwick], and once we
did that I thought we were pretty successful. I feel like we’re very senior-heavy. I feel like we have a group of guys that are willing to work to get better with each other. Hopefully we can go deep in the playoffs.”
“I’m just glad that when we got down about eight we buckled down and came back instead of panicking,” added Kurutz. “We just kept it simple. Chipped away and then took the lead and the next thing you know we’re up 12 points. ... We had a hard time finding a defense for us that was working. We were a little bit out of sync. Defensively, I couldn’t get
the right five I wanted in there at times. There was always one guy out of position, but they were creating things to cause those problems.”
Davis finished with a game-high 20 points, while Rachic added 17. Aris chipped in another nine for the Cavaliers, who are scheduled to host Leonardtown at 6:30 tonight.
Patuxent boasted some balance in the scorebook, with Fenwick and Parker both scoring 15 points, while Bibb added 14. But the Panthers’ lack of depth hurt them in the end, as the team appeared to run out of gas.
“I want to say that was the same deal with Chopticon, the same deal with Leonardtown, the same deal when we played Westlake here and the same deal tonight,” Patuxent head coach RJ Buck said. “We’re just not deep enough right now to hold people off for four quarters. We play basketball real well for three quarters and then we just run out of gas.
“Guys get tired, foul trouble hurts us. It’s really tough right now. ... We just have to find ways in practice to get guys better so that we can improve and extend the bench a little more.”
Patuxent is set to travel to Great Mills at 6:30 tonight. Buck hopes his squad will build upon what it showed for the first 2 1/2 quarters against Calvert.
“The guys played with a lot of energy tonight. That impressed me,” he said. “They accepted the challenge. We knew going into the game that Calvert was a pretty talented team. We’ve been struggling of late against teams with a little more talent than we do, but they really fought tonight. They played great defense for three quarters. ... They played hard.”
Calvert’s Melvin Davis scored a game-high 20 points in the Cavaliers’ 60-53 win at Patuxent on Friday night.