- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
With their home gym under construction this season, the Calvert basketball teams have been homeless.
Friday night at Patuxent, the Cavaliers were the home team in an in-county doubleheader with the Panthers. And they appeared right at home in pulling off the sweep.
The Calvert girls (16-2, 9-1 SMAC) held the Panthers to just five second-half points on its way to a convincing 70-24 victory.
“We still have some things to work on and tweak, especially in the offensive end, and it seemed we got that together tonight,” Calvert head girls coach Tim Contee said. “And also our secondary break was a point of emphasis, too, and we seemed to be gelling with that, too.”
The Calvert boys (14-6, 7-3 SMAC) completed the sweep when it had four players reach double digits in scoring a 70-48 win.
“I think the team’s in a rhythm now, and like anything, [playoff success] is going to come down to match-ups, but right now we know what we’re trying to do,” Calvert head boys coach Jeremy Kurutz said. “They know how to work together in our system, so all we’re doing now is trying to keep the cogs turning and just try to get a bit better at what we do.”
On the boys side, Calvert had first quarter runs of eight and seven points to jump out to a 17-4 lead after eight minutes and 30-18 by halftime.
“Every time we would start to make a run, one or two mistakes would get us,” Patuxent head coach Nick Wilson said. “We came out with a ton of energy; the gym was packed and the guys were amped up to play, and then one or two mistakes got into our heads a bit. And that’s been our issue all year, just learning how to win.”
Jermaine Hunter and Tavi Thomas each scored a team-high 19 points to help Calvert seal the win.
“We started off slow, but we picked it up the second half,” Hunter said. “We just had to work the ball and move it around, but we also came out with hype because it was our senior night, even though it was here [at Patuxent], we had our fans here with us and that really boosted our energy up.”
Hunter helped erupt the raucous gymnasium, thanks in part to a late two-handed dunk.
Hunter added, “I really appreciate it; I really like it [because] it shows that our school’s kind of one as a family. We don’t have a home court, so they travel with us and everyone on the team appreciates it.”
Hunter said the Cavaliers did not overlook Patuxent, despite the fact that the Panthers came into the game on a 10-game losing streak.
“We got shocked mid-year against La Plata [70-62 on Jan. 16], a team we should have blown out,” he said, “so we never overlook any team now.”
Josh Smith added 12 points for Calvert, and C.J. Gantt scored 10.
“The guys are pretty used to each other now; they’re using each other’s strengths, and they’re working together to get things done,” Kurutz said. “[Patuxent has] quick legs, and they’re aggressive; they always have been, and speed and aggressiveness will always give you a little trouble.”
The Panthers (3-18, 0-11) were led by Jahi Norman, who scored a game-high 21 points.
“Turnovers were key; we couldn’t get our shots to fall,” Norman said. “Our coach throughout the whole game was telling us to force them in because they stayed in a zone the whole game. First, they were in a 3-2 and then they went into a 2-3, so a slash to the middle would have been key, but we couldn’t get it.”
Norman scored his team’s first 11 points until Jake Dunigan’s putback with less than four minutes left in the half.
“I tried to be the offensive focus in the beginning of the game, and it was easy. I saw I could get to the rim with ease,” said Norman, who scored 15 of his points in the first half. “The second half, I got discouraged [because] my first couple shots didn’t fall and that was my bad. As captain of the team, I should have attacked the basket as much as I could.”
The Panthers have been besieged by injuries all season, and Friday marked the return of senior guard Trey Lee, who had not played since suffering a concussion Jan. 3 against Northern.
“I definitely see progress; I can definitely see us making a push in the playoffs,” Norman said. “Before every game, our coach asks us to believe, and I feel like if every player on our team can finally come together and believe as one we can make a push.”
Alexis Smith may be the Cavaliers’ top gun, but she got plenty of support from her teammates during Friday’s bout. Smith scored 26 points, but Jasmine Weems added 23 and Daijah Thomas scored 12.
“That’s kudos to all of our players because everybody needs to be effective on the floor,” Contee said. “It shouldn’t matter what your name is; the other team should still feel like you’re a threat.”
“Basically, we know that Alexis is a big eye to everybody, everybody knows her, her name’s out there, and is always looking at her and wants to stop her,” Weems said, “so we need to use her to work on our own shots and get ourselves open and just work around it.”
Contee said the Cavaliers’ loss to North Point — their first and only conference defeat of the season thus far — was a much-needed wake-up call.
“It was a reality check to let our team know we still had things to work on, we still had deficiencies and flaws,” Contee said of the 60-43 loss on Jan. 30. “Our mental toughness and us reacting against a hard-nosed defense [were our downfalls], and it’s hard to say [if we’re doing those things better] but I’m seeing improvements.”
Calvert had six runs of six points or more, with four of those going for 10 or more points in Friday’s win. Patuxent’s longest run was six points in the first quarter, and 14 of its 24 points came from either the free-throw line or three-point range.
The Panthers (5-15, 2-9) received eight points apiece from Ruth Cooper and Destinee Jones.
“[I’m] very proud of the way we came out in the first half,” Patuxent head coach Stan Hampton said. “We kept our heads up and competed. [We] lost some steam in the second half but played much better than we did the first time we faced Calvert [a 109-24 nonconference loss on Dec. 7].”
“From the first time we played them until now, I see improvements in not only our players but their players, too, so it gives their coach something to hang his hat on,” Contee said.