Athletics News

Men's Basketball

’Jacks host Howard in opener
State first-rounder is rematch of regular season’s 2OT thriller

WYE MILLS – Which Howard Community College men’s basketball team will show up to play seventh-seeded Chesapeake College Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference tournament?

Will it be the Dragons squad that lost to both Harford Community College and Garrett College – which were each 5-11 in league play – in the last 17 days?

Or will it be the Howard team that recently upset the College of Southern Maryland, keeping the Hawks from tying for third place in the final state standings? Or, maybe more to the point, will it be the team that took Chesapeake College to double-overtime before losing to the Skipjacks (15-9 overall, 9-7 league) three months ago?

"Last meeting (95-86 win) was a classic – and I was hoping not to relive it," said Chesapeake head coach Joel Dearring, who would have preferred avoiding a first-round hook-up with the dangerous Dragons (12-12, 7-9). "But you just play whoever’s on the draw sheet."

Dearring is pleased that the Skipjacks have earned a first-round home game for the first time since 2008, when Chesapeake went all the way to the state title game.

"It’s exciting to be playing at the ’Peake," said Dearring, whose team is 10-2 at home this season.

While he’d prefer less drama, Dearring expects a game similar to November’s double-overtime thriller.

"They’re scrappy, they hustle, they play 94-feet," said Dearring, whose team also prefers up-tempo basketball. "Our last game we just threw haymakers at each other. It was a great game – the fans loved it. I’m not going to say I did, although I liked the final result."

Both teams depend more on depth than stars.

Five Skipjacks average double-figure points – Delfawn Worrells (14.6), Rocky Harris (14.4), Sam Sanders (11.5), Chad Church (10.8), and Gamari Mayfield (10.0). Mayfield (team-leading 8.3 rebounds), Church (7.0 rebounds) and Kevin Bonsu (8.6 points, 5.2 rebounds) share the board work, while four players on the team-oriented Skipjacks average 2.6 assists or better.

Howard only has three double-digit scorers, led by Tavon Geter’s 12.7 per contest, but seven Dragons average at least seven points per game and three more average at least five per contest. Jeffrey James is the closest thing to a focal point for the Dragons, nearly matching Geter’s scoring with 11.6 points per game while leading the team in rebounding (6.7) and assists (3.8).

Chesapeake’s Harris was the offensive star of these teams’ first meeting, with 37 points, five assists and six rebounds. The sophomore guard from Kent County High may also be the Skipjacks’ most well-rounded performer, leading the team in no categories but among the leaders in scoring, assists (5.0), rebounds (3.0) and steals (1.7) per game.

If Chesapeake wins, the Skipjacks’ likely reward will be a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Friday at Frederick Community College against second-seeded Cecil College (21-4, 15-1), which opens against No. 15 Frederick (8-18, 4-12). Chesapeake will be trying to avoid four straight first-round losses in the state tournament.

"The key will be our ability to protect the ball," said Dearring. "We’ve got to execute our offense and stay in front of people. If we do that, we should be O.K."

Chesapeake heads into the tournament with its most wins since 2008 and six victories in its last seven games despite playing a freshman-dominated roster.

"It’s a good feeling because the guys are starting to mature and starting to understand what we’re trying to do," said Dearring. "I’m excited to see how we play Tuesday."

Dearring said the Skipjacks’ performance this week – against many of the same teams that will participate in the NJCAA Division II Region XX tournament – may give his squad an indication of how it stacks up against the regional field.

"The good thing about the state tournament is it’s a tune-up for the region," said Dearring. "It allows your team to get experience in tournament play. We’ll know by the end of this thing if we’re really ready to compete in the region."

Notes: Ticket prices for Tuesday’s playoff game are $3 for individuals and $5 for families...

Six ties for tournament seeding had to be broken, with the winner of the regular-season contest between the two teams earning the higher seed.

That’s how Hagerstown Community College (22-4, 15-1) edged out Cecil College for the top seed and Allegany (16-10, 11-5) earned the No. 3 seed over Baltimore City Community College (17-9, 11-5). Similarly, the College of Southern Maryland (16-9, 10-6) nipped Prince George’s Community College (18-8, 10-6) for the fifth seed, and Montgomery Rockville (13-13, 8-8) edged Anne Arundel (13-13, 8-8) for the eighth seed to determine who would host the Anne Arundel-Rockville first-round game.

Howard fended off CCBC-Essex (10-14, 7-9) for the 10th seed, and Garrett (13-13, 5-11) beat out Harford (8-18, 5-11) for the 13th seed...

The first-round match-up with the biggest potential for an upset may be No. 5 Southern Maryland against No. 12 Catonsville. CSM only beat the Cardinals, 85-82, in their regular-season contest, and the Cardinals lost four games by four points or less.

Catonsville lost three other games in overtime, indicating the Cardinals are probably much more dangerous than most 8-18 teams. Just winning those three overtime games would have given the Cardinals a 9-7 league record and the seventh seed in the tournament.


First Round – Tuesday, February 14
All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
League record in parenthesis

No. 16 CCBC-Dundalk (3-13) at No.1 Hagerstown CC (15-1), 4 p.m.
No. 9 Anne Arundel CC (8-8) at No. 8 Montgomery Rockville (8-8)
No. 12 CCBC-Catonsville (6-10) at No. 5 College of Southern Maryland (10-6)
No. 13 Harford CC (5-11) at No. 4 Baltimore City Community College (11-5)
No. 14 Garrett College (5-11) at No. 3 Allegany College of Maryland (11-5)
No. 11 CCBC-Essex (7-9) at No. 6 Prince George’s Community College (10-6)
No. 10 Howard CC (7-9) at No. 7 Chesapeake College (9-7)
No. 15 Frederick CC (4-12) at No. 2 Cecil College (15-1)

Quarterfinals – Friday, February 17 at Frederick Community College
CSM/Catonsville winner vs. Baltimore City/Harford winner, 1 p.m.
Allegany/Garrett winner vs. Essex/Prince George’s winner, 3 p.m.
Hagerstown/Dundalk winner vs. Rockville/Anne Arundel winner, 5 p.m.
Cecil/Frederick winner vs. Chesapeake/Howard winner, 7 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, February 18 at Frederick Community College
First semifinal, 5 p.m.
Second semifinal, 7 p.m.

Finals – Sunday, February 19 at Frederick Community College
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.

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