- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
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If you went to Patuxent High School on Saturday night to watch Calvert host Leonardtown in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference boys basketball showdown, you were in the right place. There was no need for a double-take.
Patuxent is serving as Calvert’s home gym this basketball season while its school is under renovations.
No matter where the game was played, it took just four seniors to get the job done for the Cavaliers in their first scheduled conference matchup of the season.
Seniors Josh Smith, Jermaine Hunter, Daiquarius Gantt and Datavious Thomas pulled through in the 54-48 victory over the Raiders, who were also playing their first scheduled conference game of the season.
Calvert head coach Jeremy Kurutz referred to Smith and Thomas as his one-two punch when it comes to rebounds, with Thomas averaging 11 rebounds a game,
The Cavaliers led 31-14 lead at halftime, partly due to Hunter’s no-look, behind-the-back toss at midcourt as he tried to beat the buzzer. It was a perfect throw as the ball hit the backboard and went right into the net, scoring the only three-point shot of the game by either team.
“We started out in a zone and we traded baskets there,” Kurutz said. “I know we have some athleticism, and we came at them and caused some turnovers and got the score up to a nice comfortable lead, but you have to give their coach credit. He had them come out playing hard in the third quarter. They capitalized on some of our bad shots and it suddenly goes from a team that’s ready to quit to a team that sees the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Damien King came alive for Leonardtown in the third quarter to rattle things up as the Raiders outscored the Cavaliers 20-10 to cut Calvert’s lead to 41-34 entering the fourth quarter.
Kurutz added, “When kids start to play tight like that, they go out there playing like they’re afraid to lose, instead of going out there to win it.”
King, a junior guard, was the game-high scorer with 20 points. Half of those points were scored in the third quarter alone.
“He’s a one-man press pretty much” Leonardtown head coach David Holland said of King. “When he gets the ball in the open court, he’s tough to stop. It was déjà-vu the other night when we played a horrible second quarter against La Plata [a 57-45 loss last Wednesday] and got down in the hole the exact same way. One quarter can make the rest of the game. Our foul shooting in the first half wasn’t good either, you have to make those freebies.”
The Raiders went on an eight-point run midway through the third quarter when King teamed up with senior guard Julius Camp (11 points) and the two brought the visitors within six points. Kurutz called timeout to try and settle things down and regroup his team.
King took to heart what Holland said at halftime and wanted to make a run in the third quarter.
“Coach came in and told us that we needed to get our heads up and start playing like we wanted to win,” King said, “and that’s what we came out ready to do. We could have won. I think we got tired there in the last two minutes. We need to come out stronger against Lackey in the first two quarters.”
Leonardtown made another run in the fourth quarter with help from senior guard Mike Day (7 points). Day brought the Raiders to within four points, the closest edge in the game.
Kurutz noticed that the Leonardtown guards were getting hot with Thomas in foul trouble on the bench.
“They were getting up close to the basket, but they were putting up stuff under our arms, double-clutching things.” Kurutz said, “and when you’re making shots like that, it’s hard and you get frustrated. Granted, we were letting them get to the basket, but those weren’t just any layups. Those were some difficult, athletic layups.”
Gantt scored eight of his total 12 points for Calvert in the final quarter of play to help Calvert surge ahead.
“We just came off of a tough loss [63-45 to Westlake last Wednesday],” Gantt said, “so we really wanted this win and to keep it going. It’s the first game in the conference. We know eventually if we keep fighting, a team will give up, and we weren’t the first to do that today. If we keep working hard, I have faith in my team.”