While there may not have been a considerable amount of hype leading up to Wednesday night’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Potomac Division boys basketball game at Thomas Stone, pitting the Cougars and visiting St. Charles, the contest hardly validated the legitimate sellout crowd.
St. Charles and Thomas Stone have evolved into two of the premier boys squads in the SMAC Potomac Division and the anticipation perhaps reached a fever pitch before the game began. Even before the junior varsity game started, fans were being turned away at the gate by officers from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office who notified those arriving around 6 p.m. that the game was sold out.
Once the game got under way, St. Charles (8-1, 1-0 SMAC Potomac) emerged as the superior team.
The Spartans led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and took a 14-point lead into the locker room at the intermission. On three occasions in the third quarter, the visitors led by 17 points, but the Cougars clawed back to within nine at 41-32 late in the frame, which gave the home fans a glimmer of hope.
“When we had that run in the third quarter, it looked like we had the offense finally working,” said Thomas Stone head coach Dale Lamberth, whose team travels to North Point for another division battle at 6:30 tonight. “But then we had a couple of turnovers and they got some easy points in transition and from there the game got away from us.”
St. Charles extended a 31-17 halftime lead to 41-24 with three minutes left in the third quarter, its third 17-point lead of that frame. Then, the Cougars launched a brief rally on two buckets inside from Jerrell McCready and a three-point field goal from Tevin Wilson and the hosts trailed 43-32 heading to the fourth.
St. Charles, however, promptly opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run sparked by a three-point field goal by Myron Davis and later the Spartans had another 8-0 run thanks to buckets inside from Amir Dade and Omar McGann and two layups from Tremaine Chesley to forge a commanding 59-36 lead with just over three minutes remaining. A gym that was literally packed only two hours earlier was mainly vacant for the last three minutes.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of staying focused and staying together and not listening to the crowd noise,” said St. Charles head coach Brett Campbell, whose team will travel to Northern tonight for a 6 p.m. tip. “That’s why I love playing all of these road games early in the season. You have to stay together as a team and not get distracted and we’ve been able to do that.”
St. Charles forced Thomas Stone to commit 16 turnovers and the Spartans turned most of them into easy buckets. While the visitors maintained a level of consistency throughout the contest, Stone managed to reach double-digits in points in only one of the four quarters. The Cougars’ 15 points in the third accounted for more than one-third of their production for 32 minutes. Kire Hines led the hosts on the night with nine points.
Except for a brief spurt late in the third quarter when Stone climbed to within single digits for the final time, St. Charles owned the latter part of each quarter. The Spartans ended the second quarter on a 14-4 run after the Cougars had stayed within four points early.
Dade was one of three St. Charles players in double figures, scoring 11 points. Chesley led with 16 points and Max Brooks added 10.
“It was a good team win,” said Dade, who connected on a three-pointer in the first half then added a layup in the Spartans’ decisive run in the fourth. “We played good together on offense and defense. The crowd was really into it early. We stayed focused and just kept playing together. Everyone did their part to help us win tonight.”