The Mount Carmel boys basketball team knew what was at stake when it took on Archbishop Curley last week.
"I think it was a big game because we were playing Curley and our guys really wanted to avenge that loss," said Mount Carmel coach Tom Rose, whose team lost to Curley earlier in the season for its only league defeat. "The second thing was it was for first place in our division, which has really been a goal for us all year."
No. 5 Mount Carmel (22-3) clinched the No. 1 seed in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference North Division and a first-round bye in the tournament with the 69-56 win. The Cougars have a 14-1 record in league play.
Mount Carmel is no stranger to deep runs in the playoffs. Two years ago it won the B Conference and last year it made it to the final before losing to St. Mary's. This team is poised for another run, but that's where the similarities end.
"This team is a lot different than our two previous teams," Rose said. "Besides Marc Anthony Franks, we're really small but very fast. This team seems to defend really well, too."
It also doesn't hurt that the Cougars start five seniors. Towson-bound Troy Franklin grabs most of the headlines, but Franks, Dwayne Wheeler, Stanford McNair and Rummell King have been solid contributors.
Mount Carmel will face the winner of the St. Paul's-St. Vincent Pallotti game in the tournament semifinals.
Walbrook boys basketball -- It appeared that Walbrook was at least a year away from being a serious threat in the Baltimore City Division I league and 4A North region. After losing lopsided games to No. 4 St. Francis and No. 3 Randallstown at the Basketball Academy last month, the young Warriors were 5-6. What a difference a month makes. Since the Academy, Walbrook has won six of its past seven and is 6-0 and tied for first in the league with Lake Clifton. The Warriors also established themselves as a contender for the 4A crown. "I really feel as though we're getting better as the season has went on, and I think if we continue to get better, we can make a legitimate run," coach Kelvin Bridgers said. "Overall, our team has committed to working hard, being focused, making better decisions and just playing harder and understanding what it takes to win games." Junior guard Donte Stuckey is great offensively and has stepped up to become a team leader. Sophomore forward Roscoe Smith is almost automatic for a double double and had a stretch in which he notched three triple doubles in a row. His inspired play has been a catalyst for Walbrook's resurgence. "His play has definitely helped us; he's being more aggressive," Bridgers said. "Young players sometimes have to understand the speed of the game, and he's gotten used to it."
Roland Park basketball -- Coach Scott Buckley earned his 200th career victory Sunday as the Reds defeated Notre Dame Prep, 39-34, in the opening round of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament. Buckley, The Sun's 1997-97 All-Metro Coach of the Year, has a 200-110 career record in 12 years with the Reds.
Games lost by the Lake Clifton and Walbrook boys basketball teams in Baltimore City Division I play. The Lakers and the Warriors play tonight for sole possession of first place.
Games decided by three points or fewer for the Cardinal Gibbons basketball team last week. The Crusaders lost three of them and won one.