To say the mood at Bishop Walsh after Friday evening’s City League opener was a tad different than a year ago would be the understatement of the century.
January 6, 2012 doesn’t hold a particularly fond place in the annals of Bishop Walsh boys basketball.
Almost a year to the day later — January 4, 2013 — after a game against the same opponent on the same floor, the frowns and head shaking of yesteryear were replaced by smiles and high-fives by players and fans alike.
Disaster struck Bishop Walsh a year ago in a 64-54 loss to Fort Hill. Disaster wasn’t what the scoreboard read; it was what the doctors said.
Quincy Redmon, a 6-foot-6 junior at the time and first-team All-Area, went down with a knee injury in the second quarter and was lost for the year.
A quarter later, older brother Shannon Redmon, a 6-foot-4 senior, went down with an ankle injury and was lost for most of the rest of the year.
Bishop Walsh had an 8-2 record entering that game and was a serious contender for Area, City and AMAC championships.
And while the Spartans did an admirable job in finishing 16-11, their title hopes vanished that night. They finished in the middle of the pack in the AMAC at 11-5 and third in the City at 1-3.
Fast forward to Friday night and one could understand if there was a bit of anxiety among the Burgundy and White.
“Sure, I remember what happened a year ago here,’’ BW coach Bob Boyle quickly answered following the Spartans’ 77-48 win. “And don’t think Quincy wasn’t thinking about that, either. He reminded me of it.”
Ironically, perhaps incredibly, a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to Friday night’s game.
“In the third quarter of our game Tuesday a Frankfort player fell and his leg flew up and hit Quincy right in the jaw,’’ Boyle described. “It dislocated Quincy’s jaw.”
But before the urge to raise the white flag could have set in, Boyle said the jaw popped back into place after medical attention by team physician Dr. Tom Hartsuch.
Two days later the gutsy Redmon, also a standout football player, was back at it, strong as ever.
So were his teammates. Hunter Marrale, who played at City rival Allegany last year, scored 30 points and nailed five three-point goals. Liam Rhodes had 24 points, six assists and five steals and Redmon 12 points and seven rebounds.
If last year’s City League couldn’t have started any worse for BW, then this year’s couldn’t have started any better.
The Spartans made 29 field goals and had 16 assists; had 14 steals and only eight turnovers; and held Fort Hill to one field goal in the first quarter and 4-for-20 shooting in the first half.
The first few minutes of each half, most coaches say, are the most important of a game. Boyle agrees.
“We need to have good starts. We’re better when we start out quick and get the lead, like we did in wins against St. Maria Goretti and St. Mary’s Ryken in the Goretti tournament early this year,” he said.
“We got ahead early and built pretty decent leads in both of those games. Then Goretti and Ryken both came back later in the game, but we had something left for them. We still had something left in the tank.”
The Spartans had plenty left after Friday’s strong start. One reason was how they took care of the basketball. Eight turnovers for the game. Three in the first half and five in the second.
Teams don’t lose often with eight turnovers in a high school basketball game. That led to, among other things, a 63-39 edge in shots attempted. Teams that get off 24 more shots than the other rarely lose, either.
Everyone played and everyone contributed, whether it was with points, rebounds, assists or steals.
“This is an unselfish team. I can go eight deep or so without losing much of a step at all,’’ Boyle said. “And they play at full speed on offense and defense. This is a team that is fun to watch play, at least from where I’m watching from.”
Fort Hill’s Jarrett Wolfe scored his his 500th career point with a foul shot during the second quarter of Friday’s game, and is moving in on a few other milestones.
The senior center needs seven more rebounds for 300, and eight more blocked shots for 100.
He had 16 points, nine rebounds and one block Friday night.
Because of a schedule that opened with four away games, a weather-related postponement and a holiday tournament at Fort Hill, Allegany played one home game out of its first eight.
Saturday’s rescheduled game with Southern made the Campers two out of nine when it comes to home games. But record-wise they are 6-3, the only losses coming to out-of-towners Altoona, Pa., (6-4), Parkersburg, W.Va., South (8-2) and St. Maria Goretti (11-5), all on the road.
Eight of Allegany’s final 13 games will be at Campobello, where the home team is 52-8 the last five seasons. And with games at BW and Fort Hill to play, there aren’t many bus rides left as 10 of the Campers’ final 13 games will be played in Cumberland.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at email@example.com