Seven games into the season, and members of the Broadneck boys basketball team were talking about a "must win" and having their backs "against the wall."
The combination of a 4-3 record -- and an opponent that has gotten off to its best start ever -- will do that to a team.
And in the case of Friday's game, those elements brought out the best in the Bruins.
"It was gut-check time for us," said Broadneckcoach Ken Kazmarek, after the Bruins' 58-38 trouncing of host Chesapeake, owners of a 6-1 record heading into the game.
"We needed to beat someone, and I thought we came down and showed people what we can do when we really put our minds to it."
And when the Bruins havea tenacious defense and the long-range shooting of senior Jeff Vincent at their disposal.
Chesapeake's 38 points were a season low, and only 15 more than Vincent's output. The lanky guard had 14 points by halftime -- four below his season's average -- including a pair of three-pointers.
His last trey, from the left baseline late in the half, took two high bounces off the rim before falling through. All he needed was a blindfold and a drum roll.
"He's been such a solid player for us all year long," Kazmarek said. "I think this was a night where Jeff had to come out and really establish himself."
He added another three-pointer in the third quarter to put Broadneck further ahead, 38-20. The Cougars didn't score in the quarter until three minutes, 56 seconds remained, on a Jerry Scheff free throw.
Vincent, who added six rebounds, credited his deft shooting touch to "fresh legs."
"I felt good tonight," he said, "and I got help from other people."
Matt Weimer added nine points for the Bruins. Jason Smithhad seven points, Maurice Washington and Greg Jackson, six, and David Britton, five.
Mark Hall led Chesapeake with 10 points. Mike Lind and Joe Jennings added eight and six points, respectively.
Broadneck was coming off a tough 59-55 loss to rival Severna Park last Tuesday, and Vincent said, "We've been up and down, and we just need to get our confidence back up and get on the upward swing again."
"This is probably one of the best games we've played all year, as far asfour straight quarters," Kazmarek said. "We were very consistent, and I thought our turnover rate (11) was very good. We made very good decisions, and at the same time ran the kind of pace we like to run."
That's up-tempo basketball, something the Cougars obviously wantedto avoid from the start. They worked 31 seconds off the clock on their first possession before taking a shot.
The second quarter was Chesapeake's undoing. The Cougars only scored six points on 1-of-4 shooting, and a 12-10 deficit after one quarter grew to 27-16 at halftime.
The Cougars had their chances at the line in the first half. Broadneck was called for 12 fouls, and Chesapeake two, but the Cougars sank just four of 12 free throws.
For the game, Chesapeake was 13-for-26 at the line, after going 25-for-32 in a 60-48 win over Arundellast Tuesday. The Cougars finished with 13 fouls, compared to 23 forBroadneck. Four Bruins had four fouls by game's end, including Vincent.
"When you're playing our style, you have a tendency to foul more than the other team," Kazmarek said. "When you press like we do, and we go after you, we're going to foul. That's just part of the game, as far as we're concerned."
Another part of Broadneck's game is limiting the opposition's number of field goals. In this case, Chesapeake had 12.
And its second loss.
What Broadneck had was its must-win at gut-check time.