Catonsville doesn't have a star player, but it hasn't seemed to bother the Comets, who don't have a loss this season, either.
Five players average in double figures for No. 6 Catonsville (19-0 overall, 17-0 Baltimore County), a team that coach Art Gamzon says is like none he has coached before.
Gamzon, with five holdovers from last season's 16-8 team, has guided the Comets to a school-record winning streak and, he hopes, to Catonsville's first state boys basketball title in 63 years.
"I think this is the best, and certainly the deepest team I've ever coached," said Gamzon, who in 10 years of coaching at Oakland Mills, Milford Mill and Catonsville has taken his teams to the state final four twice. "We don't have one overpowering player, but we have five guys who can flat-out play. Who are [opponents] going to key on? On any given night, we have a different guy who steps forward."
Those guys include 6-2 senior point guard David Clark, averaging a team leading 15.1 points a game, 6-2 senior forward Teron Owens (13.2), 6-1 junior shooting guard Robbie Reich (12.2), 6-3 senior center Marlon Barbour (13.5 and eight rebounds) and 6-1 sophomore small forward James Lewis (10.8 and eight rebounds).
BCatonsville has a sixth player averaging in double digits. Six-two senior guard Lewis Smith averaged 17.5 to lead the team through early December before being injured six games into the season. He is expected to return to the lineup soon.
Gamzon said that before the start of basketball practice, he planned on running the same controlled, half-court offense he had run in past years. Once he saw the talent, however, he said he quickly changed his mind.
"My philosophy has changed because I have the players to implement this game plan," Gamzon said. "I realized that I had at least three or four outside shooters and that I had some good, and some outstanding, passers. I made the decision early on that we'd play 32 minutes of pressure man-to-man and that we'd run all of the time."
And run they have. The Comets average 83.7 points. They've scored more than 90 points seven times and topped 100 three times. All this while giving up just 59.3 points a game.
The point guards have been told never to walk the ball up the court," said Gamzon, "but rather to push the rock. We play an up-tempo game and try to get points off defense. Not only has it proven effective, but it's fun."
ESaid forward Steve Joyce: "It's really exciting. If you're not in the game it's even fun to watch. Everybody's been really happy with it because we're a lot more comfortable with pushing the ball."