When Delone Catholic High's boys' basketball team stepped on the court Saturday night at McSherrystown against Calvert Hall, Md., the Squires did not know what to expect.
At the end of the first quarter of their eventual 67-61 loss, the Squires (4-2) found themselves with a 21-10 lead after a nearly flawless quarter.
The Squires held a 16-point lead with less than four minutes to go in the half. That was when the Cardinal shooters started honing in on their target.
The first 12 minutes of play for Calvert Hall were full of errant shots and turnovers, resulting in easy Delone baskets.
After a put-back by Chris Wallace, the Cardinals forced a turnover that resulted in an easy layup for Darius Ables. That was part of an 18-2 Calvert Hall run that included two 3-pointers and one four-point play.
Trailing 29-24 with just under a minute to play, Calvert Hall found a wide open T.J. Duckett on the baseline behind the arc. Duckett drained the three and was fouled in the process.
His free throw brought the Cardinals within one. After a Delone layup, the Cardinals answered with a 3-pointer from Reggie Rouse with six seconds left in the half to tie the game.
"We started pressing them in the full court and trying to trap them and take (Brett) Smith away as best as we could," Calvert Hall head coach John Bauersfield said. "We were able to force a couple turnovers late in the half and then Duckett's four-point play was a huge turn. They made shots in the first quarter and we made them in the second."
Three-pointers became a theme for the Cardinals as they came out after halftime, and Drew Edwards nailed one of his five 3s of the night on Calvert Hall's first possession.
The second half went back and forth. Every time Delone would get within one possession of the lead, Calvert Hall would come back and nail a huge 3-pointer.
The Squires got a layup from Andrew Austin to tie the game with just over a minute left in the third quarter, and then Edwards was fouled while shooting a 3 and drained all three free throws to give the Cardinals another three-point lead.
With the game tied at 51, the Squires pulled ahead on Smith's layup with about six minutes to go in the game.
Calvert Hall answered again on the very next possession as Edwards drilled a 3 from the baseline to put the Cardinal ahead by one. It was a lead Delone would not be able to overcome.
The Squires' best opportunity to tie the game after that came off a steal by Smith, who in transition pulled up at the 3-point line and saw his shot hit off the back of the rim and fall into the hands of Calvert Hall.
"I thought our effort was phenomenal," Delone head coach Jim Dooley said. "We had great balance in our scoring. I wish we would have won, but it is great to play that kind of team. If we want to make it far in the playoffs, this is the type of team we need to beat."
In the second half, Calvert Hall made nine field goals, with all but one being 3-pointers.
"They shot magnificently from 3-point range," Dooley said. "I thought we guarded them really well. They just made their shots."
"We have really good shooters," Bauersfield said. "Unfortunately for us, if the threes go down, we are in good shape. If they don't, we are not in good shape. We kind of live and die by them. This was a big win. They are a great team and are very well coached."
The depth of Calvert Hall appeared to give the Squires a bit of a problem as the game wound down, something Dooley plans to address.
"If (fatigue) is the case, then we have to work harder," he said. "I am not tired and I worked pretty hard on the sidelines. I will go home and be tired. I am not tired when I am competing. That is what we have to do. That is the mindset we have to have."
Overall, the Squires' performance is one that leaves Dooley smiling.
"I am not displeased at all," he said.
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CALVERT HALL (67)
Drew Edwards 6 9-9 26, Hynson 3 0-0 9, Blackwell 3 0-2 8, Duckett 2 1-1 7, Rouse 2 1-2 6, Wallace 2 1-2 5, Tawiah 1 0-1 2, Phoneix 1 0-2 2, Ables 1 0-0 2, Cager 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 12-19 67.
DELONE CATHOLIC (61)
Devon Moore 4 4-4 15, Andrew Austin 5 2-2 12, Brett Smith 4 3-5 11, Orndorff 2 4-4 8, Altland 4 0-0 8, Wiles 2 2-3 7, Kilkelly 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 14-18 61.
Calvert Hall 10 21 20 16 -- 67
Delone Catholic 21 10 16 14 -- 61
3-point goals -- Calvert Hall 13 (Edwards 5, Hynson 3, Blackwell 2, Duckett 2, Rouse); Delone Catholic 4 (Moore 3, Wiles).
JV score -- Calvert Hall 51, Delone Catholic 39.