Parkville takes Dundalk Holiday Tournament championship

(Updated 1/4/18)

- By Patrick Taylor -

The Dundalk Holiday Tournament is easily one of my favorite events of the year to cover. In my opinion, there is no better way to spend the holiday break than with two days straight of non-stop basketball. While this year’s tournament did not have the draw of a Perry Hall/Patterson clash like last year, there were still plenty of great contests and moments.
It would take up too much space to go over each game individually, so let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the Dundalk Holiday Tournament.

The biggest winner of the tournament has to be Parkville, who was the only east side team to actually win their division title. The Knights (4 - 1) opened up the tournament with a contest against Owings Mills. Only, using the word “contest” might be a bit much. There was never really a question about who was going to win, with Parkville holding Owings Mills below 10 points in each of the first two quarters. And Parkville could not be stopped offensively. At the half, the Knights controlled the game with a 43 - 18 lead and ultimately finished with a 91- 60 victory.

Sophomore Jordan Strickland and seniors Cameron Crowe and Jamal Johnson proved to be too formidable for the undersized Owings Mills to handle. The Knights consistently exploited the size advantage they had, pounding the low post and grabbing offensive boards as they came.

Things got a bit trickier for Parkville in their championship matchup against Towson. While Owings Mills was rolling out small guards, and small forwards occupied the power forward and center positions, Towson has a lot more height. They are also able to play a much more physical style.

Parkville and Towson slugged it out for four quarters, with Parkville ending up the victor with a score of 72 - 70. The game went back and forth throughout, with more than 20 lead changes.

In crunch time, Parkville relied on the aforementioned trio. Strickland hit a couple of big mid-rangers in the final four minutes to keep pace with Towson, while Crowe repeatedly gave his team second-chance opportunities.

With seconds left to play and the score tied, Strickland found his way to the foul line. While only a sophomore, Strickland had the composure of a veteran, nailing both of his chances to give Parkville the win.

Chesapeake is a bit of a mixed bag, but I ultimately decided to include them in the “winners” category. Sure, they lost bad to Dundalk, but Dundalk is a very strong team and the Bayhawks never stood much of a chance.

The Bayhawks are too young and raw to really do much this season, but in the consolation matchup against Reginald F. Lewis, Chesapeake dug deep and secured their first win of the season - and a glimpse of the future. This team will likely terrify opponents next season, with only two seniors graduating and a lot of height. This season is all about growth, and the win against Reginald Lewis was a nice first step.

Finally we come to Kenwood’s Pharaoh Walker. Walker could not drag his team to a championship appearance, but he certainly did everything he could. And along the way he solidified himself as one of the area’s top players. Throughout the tournament, Walker showed a lot of versatility. Against Woodson - a game Kenwood lost 68 - 66 -  he got in rhythm with an early three before adding a two on a nice drive and three more just before the end of the first quarter.

While Walker’s first half consisted largely of deep shots, in the second he primarily did his damage in the paint. And this is the real beauty of his game. He is such a pure shooter that you have to commit to him every time he gets the ball around the arc. But once he establishes the shot and commitment from the defense, he has the athletic ability to beat you off the dribble. That is exactly how things have played out for him all season. He finished both games of the tournament with more than 20 points, and he really just made it look easy.

The only criticism I have of Walker is that he disappears for long stretches. Against Woodson, the disappearing act came at the worst time - the fourth quarter. Walker notched a couple of assists as the Woodson defense started playing better team defense and committing to shutting him out. But if Kenwood is going to win games consistently, Walker needs to be shooting.

Finally, we come to our last “winner” of the group, which is not actually a person but rather a type of play - the buzzer beater. Good Lord, it was like Dundalk’s gym turned into a video game or something. Nearly every game had one, with some having two or three. The buzzer beaters were often inconsequential, but there is nothing quite like the rush you get watching a team run the court in less than five seconds to hit a three or runner as the horn sounds.

The Dundalk Owls are the first loser on the list. Their inclusion here is solely because they suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of Southwestern. The Owls kept things close up to the half, trailing Southwestern by six as they entered the third quarter. But the Owls simply could not buy a bucket in the third quarter. They eventually lost with a score of 65 - 52.

Junior guard Michael Johnson, who has been Dundalk’s main scoring threat this season, was largely kept in check. And while Dundalk has shown great ability all season to find points when their top scorers go missing, Friday night’s contest against Southwestern was a bit different. Everyone went cold in the third, which unfortunately can happen from time to time. The good news is this is only Dundalk’s first loss, and it was a bit of a fluke. They certainly will not be kept in check like that often.

Patapsco was another loser in the Dundalk Holiday Tournament, with the Patriots losing to Edgewood by 25 in their opening contest and Digital Harbor by 30 in a consolation match that did little to console Patapsco.

Since opening up the season with a big win over Sparrows Point, the Patriots have absolutely flatlined. They are currently on a five-game skid with their closest finish in that stretch being a 13-point loss to Towson. This is a team largely comprised of juniors, so they need a bit more time to grow together. Hopefully they can get their act together with conference play looming.

Perry Hall gets revenge on Patterson at Eckert Winter Classic

Perry Hall gets revenge on Patterson at Eckert Winter Classic
Perry Hall's Tyler Holley iced the game at the free-throw line in the waning seconds to seal the win. Photo by Patrick Taylor.

(Updated 12/29/17)

- By Patrick Taylor - 

Last winter, the Perry Hall boys basketball team lost to Patterson at the Dundalk Holiday Tournament with a score of 58 - 47. It was one of Perry Hall’s two losses on a season that culminated in the 4A state championship title. Despite the ultimate success of last season, the Gators never forgot the loss.

On Wednesday, Dec. 27, the Gators got the revenge they sought, edging out the Patterson Clippers with a score of 61 - 58. Led by senior forward Laquill Hardnett’s 18 points and senior forward Tyler Holley’s 11 points - including four free-throws in the final seconds of the game to keep Patterson at bay - the Gators secured a win to bring them back to .500 on the year after suffering consecutive losses to Poly and John Carroll.

“This feels good,” said Hardnett after the win. “They beat us a couple times, in the fall league, too. so this was our first time beating them and we wanted it bad, especially in their house.”

The Gators started strong in the first quarter, going on an 8 - 0 run to start the game. Holley kicked off the scoring with a bucket down low, with Terence Johnson extending the lead to 5 - 0 on the Gators’ next possession. Two possessions later, senior forward Anthony Higgs drew defenders to the low block before finding Johnson alone again in the corner for another three pointer. Patterson responded with two three pointers of their own to cut Perry Hall’s lead to two.

With the score at 12 - 10 and less than a minute to go in the first quarter, Hardnett drove hard down the lane and converted his shot, drawing a foul on the play. A Patterson player had a few choice words for the official and was promptly given a technical foul, giving Hardnett three shots at the line. He converted two of three, and Perry Hall ended the first with a 16 - 12 advantage.

Things changed for Perry Hall in the second as Patterson stepped up the defensive pressure and moved the ball around on offense with a lot more purpose. Patterson scored two straight baskets to open the quarter, tying things up at 16 all. Higgs got on the scoreboard for the first time just over a minute into the quarter, and a minute later, Holley would extend the lead on an and-one alley-oop lay-in.

At the halfway point in the second, Patterson came charging back. Patterson took their first lead with just under four minutes to go in the half. And after trading baskets and the lead with Perry Hall for two minutes, they went on a 8 - 0 run of their own to close out the half, giving them a 36 - 29 lead.

While Perry Hall looked to have things in control in the first quarter, Patterson managed to out-rebound Perry Hall in the second, despite a major size disadvantage. Patterson players repeatedly put themselves in good position to grab offensive rebounds, and on the defensive side of the ball for the Clippers they often had clear opportunities for rebounds with Perry Hall’s big men opting to hang around the three point arc and elbow.

After the half, it was clear that those problems were addressed in the locker room. Hardnett got things going with a drive before Higgs hit an easy shot in close after a long outlet pass from Holley. Junior forward Anthony Walker capped Perry Hall’s 6 - 0 run to start the third quarter on the team’s next possession, making a powerful move along the baseline and bullying his way inside for two.

Patterson would bring their lead back up to five, but a Hardnett three cut it back to two with three minutes left in the third before tying things up on the Gators’ next possession. Fouled on the play, Hardnett missed his free-throw, but Walker grabbed the rebound and put it back up, giving Perry Hall a 42 - 40 lead.

The Gators entered the fourth with a 44 - 43 lead, but Patterson reclaimed the edge on their first three possessions. Down 51 - 49 with four minutes left in the game, Holley found Higgs in the corner for a three to give Perry Hall a one-point lead.

Hardnett, who acted as the designated free-throw shooter on multiple technical foul opportunities, fouled out with 1:52 to play, leaving Holley as the go-to option at the line. Holley repeatedly did his duty, knocking down four free-throws in the waning seconds of the game to keep Patterson at bay for the win.

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The new session of Bengies-Chase Recreation Council's In-Shape Aerobics and Yoga classes will begin Jan. 3 at Vincent Farm Elementary School, 6019 Ebenezer Road in White Marsh. Aerobics held Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Yoga held Tuesdays; all classes 7 - 8 p.m. Call the recreation office at 410-887-5194 for more information.
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