When it comes to the Baltimore County boys basketball scene the past two winters, perfection has gone by a different moniker, namely, the Knights of Parkville High.
Paced by the electric play of high-flying guards Sincere Barfield and Caron Smith and the clutch performance by reserve center Michael Wiggins among others, Parkville concluded its second straight undefeated regular season campaign, a 22-0 mark this winter, with a thrilling 82-74 home victory against New Town (19-3) Friday night.
“Closing out the year 22-0, undefeated season–we went undefeated last year in the regular season–so back-to-back undefeated season, the kids really wanted it (and) the coaching staff really wanted it,” Knights coach Josh Czerski said. “We’ve been working hard in practice every day. They just really came together as a team.”
Speaking of coming together, Barfield and Smith combined for 53 of Parkville’s 82 points with Barfield largely pouring in his game-high 27 points on drives to the hoop on set plays or off steals. He erupted for nine points in the second quarter to help the Knights forge a narrow 30-29 halftime lead and exploded for 13 in the game’s high-scoring fourth quarter that saw Parkville edge the Titans, 33-32.
“The first half, we obviously seen that we were struggling, so we had to pick it up together, as a unit, coaches, and players, mentally and physically,” said Barfield, whose steal and subsequent two free throws with 20.9 seconds left helped seal the win. “We obviously showed that in the second half. We had to pull ourselves together, limit the turnovers, start playing defense, start playing together as a unit, and we knew we was going to win.”
After being held to five points in the first half, Smith erupted for 21 in the final 16 minutes of action, including the making of four 3-pointers, three of which came in the decisive fourth quarter and normally from a great distance and a hand in his face.
“We didn’t let them rattle us,” Smith said. “We stayed down and played defense. We kept our composure and came out with a `W.’ I got it going a little later in the second half. Sincere had a couple of big shots. I had a couple of big shots. It was a team effort.”
Wiggins was a huge part of that concerted Parkville effort, as he spelled the foul-plagued Favor Okigweh for extensive minutes in both halves and finished with six points, six rebounds, and a couple of blocks.
“He’s huge and this is only his first year playing,” Czerski said. “He just carried us throughout the game, being our anchor defensively, being able to rebound, get his hands on loose balls. His tipping balls he couldn’t get his hand on and just being a presence . . . be that guy that backs up our guards.”
Following a first half marked by numerous turnovers and aggressive defense on both ends of the court, the Knights used a quick 8-2 run to start the third quarter to open up a 38-31 lead, which would never dip below six points the rest of the way. Smith had five of those eight points on a 3-pointer and fastbreak layup.
Parkville pushed that advantage to as much as 14 points on a 3-pointer by Smith following three offensive rebounds by the Knights with just under 3 ½ minutes left in the game. Barfield added back-to-back transition buckets, including a thunderous slam dunk to help spark that double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.
New Town, which was paced by Cam Sparrow (22 points), Arrington Greenfield (14 points), and Jamal Price (14 points, nine rebounds), closed the gap to six points with 29.3 seconds remaining following back-to-back 3-pointers from Sparrow and Jaden Brown (10 points) and then forced a turnover by the Knights on the next possession against New Town’s fullcourt press.
Barfield, however, outleaped the man he was guarding to steal the inbounds pass and then raced to the other end before being fouled and converting both free throws for the final eight-point victory.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” New Town coach Derek Wise said. “I thought there were some questionable calls out there, but I don’t think we played our best today. I thought we left a lot on the table. We didn’t convert at the rim a lot. We fell asleep at the wheel on finding their shooters, and they hit shots. They capitalized. I think we had our windows to get back into the game, and we just didn’t.”
For those who missed Friday’s thrilling contest, don’t worry, as the two squads will square off again Tuesday at Parkville in the Baltimore County championship game.
“I’m relishing the opportunity to come back, but we’ve got to get better,” Wise said. “We’ve got to get better from today. We didn’t play well. I’m glad that Round 2 is on Tuesday.”
Smith added: “We know we’ve got to see them again Tuesday. We’ll come with the same energy and effort. We’re going to be ready Tuesday.”
NO. 3 PARKVILLE 82, NO. 8 NEW TOWN 74
New Town 13 16 13 32 - 74
Parkville 14 16 19 33 - 82
New Town - Justus Stanton 5, Arrington Greenfield 14, Cam Sparrow 22, Jaden Brown 10, Jamal Price 14, Cam Kirkland 5, Jaleel Hawkins 2. Totals: 26 18-25 74.
Parkville - Favor Okigweh 3, Caron Smith 26, Josiah Legree 13, Sincere Barfield 27, Michael Wiggins 6, Andre Moore 3, Dwain Worsley 4. Totals: 26 21-24 82.