One of the areas the City boys basketball team most wanted to improve on was closing out games in the fourth quarter.
The No. 4 Knights had an opportunity Thursday against pesky Woodrow Wilson (D.C.).
Some big baskets, key stops and enough free throws down the stretch provided an early-season answer as City came away with a 76-69 win over the Tigers at Forest Park's Spark at the Park.
- Basketball Game of the Week: No. 8 Poly vs. Woodrow Wilson (D.C.)
- Varsity Letters
- Varsity Winter Preview
- High school sports in October-November 2014
- High school sports in August-September 2014 [Pictures]
- High school sports championships [Pictures]
See more photos »
- Woodrow Wilson
- Larry Holmes
Trailing 55-53 early in the fourth quarter, the Knights went on a 9-0 run to pull away for the win. A balanced effort on offense got the job done, with Kamau Stokes and Omari George each finishing with 19 points, Timmy Bond adding 16 and Juwan Grant scoring 10.
City improved to 3-0 on the season, while Wilson fell for the first time and is now 2-1.
"The fourth quarter, we wanted to have the same intensity we started the game with because we knew if we didn't pick it up, they would come back," Bond said. "We started out the game with a run, and they ended up only down two at the half. So we know we have to keep that same intensity throughout the game. The effort always has to be there. We have to have 100 percent the whole game. If not, we know what could happen — the other team can come back on us."
Every time the Knights appeared ready to take control of the game, the Tigers, behind a 16-point performance from senior point guard Larry Holmes, would answer to get back in the game.
When Stokes scored with 1:56 left in the third quarter, City had its biggest lead, 52-44. But Wilson, which also relied on strong inside play from Aaron Slaughter, went on an 11-1 run to take a 55-53 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Shortly after, the Knights finally took over. After Bond made one free throw and missed on the second, George grabbed the rebound and scored to give the Knights the lead back at 56-55. After the Knights made a defensive stop, George finished off a reverse layup to increase the lead to 58-55. Six straight free throws — two from John Grant and four from Stokes — and baskets from Stokes and George gave the Knights a 68-62 lead with 2:59 left. Free throws and a final basket from Stokes took care of the closing minutes.
City coach Daryl Wade would have liked to have seen a better defensive game from his Knights, but was pleased with the fourth quarter and final score.
"The fourth quarter, we got it done, and that's what matters," he said. "We found a way, but we can't make things as difficult on ourselves as we made them today. We have to get better as time goes on."
The remaining two games in the tournament’s opening night were canceled after a fight broke out on the court in the fourth quarter of the Owings Mills-Forest Park game. Owings Mills led 63-58 with under two minutes to play when the altercation took place. Edmondson was scheduled to play MATHS in the nightcap.
The City-Woodrow Wilson opener was scheduled for 4 p.m., but didn’t start until after 5, with both teams arriving on the court late.
Spark at the Park
(at Forest Park)
No. 4 City 76 , Woodrow Wilson (D.C) 69
WW – Holmes 16, Hyatt 6, Long 10, Slaughter 16, Petty 2, Gillette 8, Robinson 8, Preece 3. Totals: 29 6-8 69 .
C – Bond 16, George 19, Stokes 19, Ju. Grant 10, Jo. Grant 4, Davis 5, Williams 3. Totals: 25 24-35 76 .
Half: C, 32-30