Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniels wasn't sure if his team& belonged in the local top-20 rankings this season but, after last night's game against Philadelphia's Simon Gratz, the country's No. 3 team, Daniels may just have a case for a national ranking.
The Owls, ranked No. 8 in the area, battled Simon Gratz for most of 32 minutes before bowing 46-40 in the final game of a trifecta in the two-day Function at Junction Mixer at Walbrook.
In other games yesterday No. 3 Walbrook cruised past No. 7 St. Frances, 93-67, and Forest Park held off Northwestern, 78-73.
Dunbar, the area's and the nation's No. 1 team beat Gratz a week ago in Johnstown, Pa., 52-49, so what does that say about Towson Catholic?
"There was never any doubt we could play with them," said Daniels, whose team led at the half, 24-21, and had played Gratz to a 34-34 draw after three quarters.
Poor second-half shooting (7 of 21 field goals) caught up with the Owls (3-1) in the fourth quarter. Gratz scored the first four points of the final quarter to build a 38-34 lead and was never headed. The Owls made just three of 12 fourth-quarter shots.
Senior center Tony Bishop led Towson Catholic with 13 (nine in the first half) and junior forward James Burrell had 10 (eight in the first half). Senior point guard Sydney Johnson did a good job of keeping the game at a slow pace in Towson Catholic's favor and scored eight.
Junior forward Jamahal Redmond led Gratz with 12 while senior center Rasheed Wallace and senior guard Contrell Scott each had 10. Bishop, 6-7, did a good job of containing Wallace, 6-10 and considered one of country's best.
In tonight's games, Gratz will meet Walbrook at 6:30. Towson Catholic and Northwestern meet at 5 p.m. after Forest Park takes on St. Frances at 3:30 p.m.
Walbrook had little trouble improving to 4-0 in the opener as senior guard Antwan Wingo, a transfer from St. Frances, scored 32 to lead the Warriors.
"I didn't take it personal," Wingo said of his first meeting with his former teammates. "I took it more as motivational. It was more fun than anything else."
Wingo and backcourt mate Sean Evans applied solid defensive pressure on the St. Frances guards, forcing several early turnovers to get the Warriors rolling.
Walbrook led 15-3 with 2:52 left in the first quarter and went on to lead 26-7 at the end of the period. The Warriors led 42-23 at the half and never trailed by less than 19 in the second half.
Wingo, a 5-11 shooting guard, scored 17 in the first half. Senior forward Jermaine Porter finished with 25 for the Warriors.
For St. Frances (0-2), senior center Mike Smith led all scorers with 33, but 23 came in the second half after the issue was settled.
"I thought it would be a tougher game, but we played good defense and put good pressure on them," said Porter.
Yesterday, the Warriors looked like a solid bet to give No. 1 Dunbar or No. 2 Southern a run when they meet later this season. In previous years the Warriors have lacked the talent to stay with the Poets and Bulldogs, but this season could be different.
"We have two of the best guards around [Wingo and Evans] and two big men [ Porter and 6-7 junior Andre Rafus]. We can go a long way," said Porter.
When asked to compare this year's Walbrook team to last year's St. Frances team, which won the Catholic League title, Wingo said. "I think the Walbrook team is better. The whole team can play. Last year [at St. Frances] things were more centered on three people."
Junior forward Harvey Chambers scored 17 to pace four Forest Park players in double figures as the Forresters evened their record at 1-1 while Northwestern dropped to 0-2.