Broadneck senior guard Mike Cantrell has a unique shot in his arsenal.
It’s a running, one-handed floater — it looks like a layup, but it comes from jump-shot territory. No coach would ever teach it.
But Cantrell is confident taking it, even when the game is on the line.
Cantrell’s patented floater from 17 feet away with 20 seconds left gave his Bruins the breathing room they needed to finish a 38-35 victory over Severna Park in front of a packed Friday-night gym at Broadneck on January 11.
Logan Vican led the Bruins’ effort with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks; Nick Gatton pulled down 10 rebounds; and Cantrell made 3 steals to go with 10 points, twice deploying his unguardable floater for baskets, none bigger than his last-minute basket that iced the rivalry victory for the Bruins.
“I just trust in my teammates,” said Cantrell. “It’s great, the crowd was awesome. I always enjoy these games.”
The game was enjoyable not just for the players but also for the students and families that packed the house and watched the Bruins and Falcons play neck-and-neck basketball right down to the wire.
Coming off a three-point loss to Annapolis, Severna Park (2-9) was the presumed underdog against Broadneck (10-2), which came into the game undefeated in county play and averaging 61.2 points per game.
But the Falcons held their own, relying on depth and defense to dictate pace. Right from the jump, Severna Park hounded the Bruins and slowed Broadneck’s otherwise run-and-gun offense. The Falcons didn’t score a field goal in the first quarter partially thanks to three blocks by the 6-foot-5 Vican, but Severna Park’s Colin Wolfe was 4-for-4 from the free throw line, and Orion Young added three free throws to keep the game close. Broadneck led 8-7 after one.
Ethan Mills gave the Falcons a 9-8 lead with a drive down the middle and a layup over the outstretched fingers of Vican to open the second quarter. Two baskets by Broadneck’s Che Colbert and one by Severna Park’s Jordan Hallet followed, but Vican closed the half with a highlight. With Severna Park leading 15-14 and holding for the last shot, Gatton intercepted a pass, and Vican picked up the deflection near midcourt. Broadneck’s center took a few dribbles and some massive strides to throw down a thunderous two-hand dunk just before the halftime buzzer, putting the Broadneck students into a frenzy and giving the Bruins a 16-15 halftime lead.
Vican said the rivalry atmosphere hyped up the players throughout the game.
“There’s a lot of emotions leading up to the game, the whole day at school, and when you finally play the game, it just feels great,” he said. “It feels even better to get the win.”
The Bruins still had work to do, and the lead changed hands several more times before game’s end. Wolfe hit a corner 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 20-19 lead in the third quarter, and after a basket by Vican, Severna Park’s Jacob Goodman scored for a 24-23 lead. Colbert gave Broadneck a 26-24 lead with a 3-pointer, and baskets by Vican and Cantrell had Broadneck up 30-26 by the end of the third.
Wolfe again hit from 3-point territory to open the fourth, but Cantrell followed with the first flash of his unique floater to make it 32-29. Broadneck put together the only sustained run for either team, getting buckets from Vican and Gatton to go up 36-29 with 4:29 left, the largest lead for either side.
With the game in danger of slipping away, Severna Park responded. Young drove the baseline for a layup, Josh Horgan got a nice pass from Hallet for a basket, and Hallet drew a foul and made both free throws to make it a one-point Broadneck lead at 36-35 with 51 seconds left.
That set up Broadneck with the ball and a one-point lead with under a minute to play. The Bruins got the ball inside to Gatton, but his pass to Vican was deflected, and the ball popped 12 feet into the air. Vican skied for a controlled tip to the wing right to Cantrell, who took a power dribble toward the top of the key and lofted his patented floater with no hesitation and nine seconds left on the shot clock:
“I practice that shot,” said Cantrell of his unusual runner. “Coach Williams allows me to be the player I want to be, and I thank him for that.”
After a Severna Park miss, Gatton missed the front end of a one-and-one that would have put the game away. Severna Park point guard Matt Simms got the rebound, and the Falcons called timeout to set up a final play with 2.6 seconds left. On the inbounds, they found Goodman on the wing, but he was triple-teamed on the catch, and his contested 3-point attempt was off the mark, with Vican’s tall frame obscuring a clean look at the basket.
Vican said the offense wasn’t playing its usual pace, but the Bruins can win a defensive battle, too.
“When it comes down to it, it’s all our defense,” Vican said. “When we play defense, teams make passes they don’t want to, and we take advantage. We go to the hoop and get those buckets off turnovers. That’s where we really excel.”
With solid minutes against Severna Park from Vican, Cantrell, Colbert, Brendan Davis (3 assists), David Stewart, Josh Ehrlich, Brendan Kennedy and Andrew Rose, Broadneck coach John Williams was keen to point out that the Bruins’ success this season has been a team effort.
“We’ve had a number of different people contribute offensively,” Williams said. “We’re definitely attempting to hang our hat on the defensive end and make sure we come to play every night on the defensive end. The fact that we’re able to do what we need to do defensively gives us a fighting chance, and we had just enough offense tonight to get it done.”
He noted the nature of the rivalry always makes for a close matchup regardless of each team’s record.
“Any time we play our rival it’s always a bit of a challenge,” said Williams. “They are very prepared. Coach [Paul] Pellicani does a really good job of coaching his guys up, they play really good defense, and they never beat themselves. So, I think it just came down to who had the last possession and who took care of the ball in the end. We had just enough to get over the hump this evening.”
The Falcons were pained by yet another close loss — Severna Park has four losses by one possession — but encouraged by the depth the team showed.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Severna Park coach Paul Pellicani. “ is a very impressive team, and they’ve got some pieces to work with. The thing I was most impressed with was, we had a game plan, and the kids executed it. The kids trusted and believed, they hung with it on both ends of the floor, and we could still be playing right now. That was a heck of a high school basketball game.”
The teams rematch on February 15 in the second-to-last game of the season.
“We’ve got to play them one more time,” said Pellicani. “I just think the contributions from so many guys, and to a person, each person we put in made us better. It wasn’t a band-aid. That’s one of the things that really excites me. We’re getting a little deeper and guys are contributing. We are right there.”