- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It took him three years to do it, but Datavious Thomas finally paid back teammate Josh Smith for a highlight reel-worthy game-winning pass a few years back.
Thomas’ behind-the-back pass to Smith to set up a fourth-quarter layup was the defensive play of the game, won 73-56 by the host Cavaliers over the Patriots on Friday night at Northern High School.
Calvert is playing its games on the road this season due to construction on the school’s gymnasium.
“It’s basically you get a few punches in, they get a few punches in and whoever executes more often is going to win the game,” Calvert head coach Jeremy Kurutz said of the win, the team’s fourth straight. “I think it was kind of even in the inside game. The guard game, though, I think we had a little size on them. We have longer arms, so it makes them do more to get an open pass. I’ll put credit to them, that Northern team’s improved a lot. [Northern head coach Frank] Moore’s done a great job with them, and I knew he would.”
The game had its fair share of offensive moments, but Thomas’ nifty feed to Smith was the defensive highlight. Thomas raced to get back in his own zone to the right side of the basket and corralled a loose ball and whipped it to Smith, who made the bucket and elicited a large cheer.
“I practice it a lot and I’d wanted to do it again, and tonight I was able to,” said Thomas, who scored eight points. “I really didn’t know [Smith] was behind me; I just threw it back and it got to him, and he scored.”
Kurutz said Thomas was able to make the basket and Smith was able to receive the pass because they were both in position.
“When we run our drills in practice, there’s supposed to be a guy over there [where Smith was],” Kurutz said. “We always attack in twos. He had some basketball sense. I think it had a little bit about what we do, a little bit about basketball sense and a little bit of luck.”
Smith scored 15 points.
“No, I didn’t expect it, but Tavi has a tendency to do some crazy things, in a good way,” Smith said. “I was surprised, but I wasn’t surprised.”
Smith wasn’t surprised because the play was a déjà-vu to one that happened three years ago.
During a junior varsity tournament, it was Smith who sent a behind-the-back pass to Thomas, who made the tournament-winning layup.
The kicker? That game was also against Northern, also in Northern’s gymnasium and even on the same basket.
“I was running down the court and threw it to Tavi, and he hit a layup at the buzzer and we won the tournament,” Smith said, shaking his head at the eerie coincidences. “It was like a flashback [tonight].”
What made the play even stranger still was that all five Calvert starters Friday — Smith, Thomas, Jermaine Hunter, Jeremy Upton and Daiquarius Gantt — were the starters in that junior varsity game.
“It seems to be [a lot of coincidences], but they were all together that year,” said Calvert assistant coach Michael McNally, who was the junior varsity coach at the time of the first pass.
McNally laughed when asked if Thomas still needed to set up Smith for a game-winner, “No, he’s good now.”
Calvert’s quick lead
The Cavaliers (15-6, 8-3 SMAC) jumped out to a commanding 20-7 first-quarter lead, only to see the Patriots chip and peck at the lead and draw to within 24-21 on two free throws by Adam Gross with 2 minutes and 17 seconds left in the first half.
“Coach Kurutz and Coach Moore used to coach together [at Calvert], so we knew we’d have to fight,” Smith said. “When we had that lead, we kind of sat back, we felt comfortable and we can’t do that in county games.”
The Cavaliers were able to reestablish their lead when they hit four straight field goals over the final 2:07 of the half. Three of them were from three-point range, and the final one came off the fingers of Hunter (game-high 23 points) as time elapsed.
“In these in-county games, there’s no such thing as a cushion,” Kurutz said. “There’s going to be streaks and runs because no one’s going to give up, and the minute your guys get tired, it’s natural tendency to give a little space, and the moment you do that, you open it up. The other team sensed it and they bit us for it, and it forced us to tighten back up. They had their surge, and it took a little bit out of them, and then we were able to bite them right back.”
Calvert led 35-23 at the half.
“I thought we were playing essentially well because we were down the first quarter and came back,” Moore said, referring to his team’s 14-4 run, which was keyed by a pair of treys from Monk Argent, who finished the game with 15 points on five threes. “But then we had some breakdowns defensively, and they hit three threes in a row. Yeah [it was tough to be losing at the half].”
Calvert out-scored the Patriots (5-17, 4-8 SMAC) and held Northern to three field goals, all in the first 59 seconds of the period, and none over a 5:53 span, until Argent’s bucket with 7.3 seconds left in the quarter.
Gantt helped seal the win by hitting 10 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Moore said he’s happy with how his team has improved but that there’s still work to be done.
“We’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the season, but the biggest thing is our attitudes; we need to learn how to win,” Moore said. “We had a three-game win streak [over Chopticon, Leonardtown and La Plata], which I was awful proud of, and then we come in here tonight and Calvert’s a lot quicker and physical than we are.”