No. 17 Gerstell drops top-seeded Severn for first MIAA B basketball championship (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS/INTERVIEWS HERE!)

by Joe DiBlasi
Gerstell Academy got three quick 3-pointers from senior sharp-shooter Colin Rimel in the first 3 minutes othat helped the No. 17 Falcons race out to an 18-8 first quarter lead en route to 62-53 victory over 14th-ranked Severn in the MIAA B Conference basketball championship Sunday afternoon APGFCU Arena at Harford Community College.
It’s the first MIAA basketball crown for the Finksburg school (20-10 overall) which began competing in the MIAA in the 2011-12 athletic year. The Falcons did it, controlling the tempo to win the pivotal third meeting against the top-seeded Admirals (25-6).
The Falcons led 30-20 at the half and 41-34 after three quarters, in a hard-fought contest that Gerstell coach Ben Thompson described as a “heavyweight fight.” It came down to free throws in the fourth stanza, when Rimel and Brad Watts were a combined 8-for-8 (hitting four free throws each) to keep Severn at bay.
Rimel finished with 15 points and Witt added 12 to lead the Falcons, who were blown out at home by Severn, 68-42, a couple of weeks ago.
Rimel didn’t play because of a back injury.
“We had to stay strong when they fought back and made a run after our 10 point lead, and we stayed calm,” said Rimel, who started fast in Gerstell’s 57-43 victory at Severn back in January. “I had to keep coming off screens and it allowed my teammates to get open. Everybody made contributions all season.”
“The key was on the defensive end,” said Witt, who was very strong on the boards and pivotal in the lane on both ends of the floor for Gerstell. “We didn’t let them get many second chance points.”
The Falcons were 15-for-16 (94-percent) from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and they were 22-for-29 (76) on the night, which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Admirals struggled from a line, hitting just 31% from the stripe (5-of-16).
Severn’s outstanding senior leader LJ Owens led all scorers with 19 points. Jermaine Hall had 13 for coach VJ Keith, and Mo Terry threw in 11. That trio garnered a combined 19 points in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons kept pace.
“He’s a phenomenal talent,” said Witt. “LJ is a great player and it’s a real challenge going against him.”
Thompson also had high praise for his own senior leader Rimel.
“He’s very composed and he’s very poised,” said Thompspm. “He’s a great leader and he hit clutch shots for us all year.”
Thompson said that part of the game plan was to try to get Rimel open early in the game to establish an inside game.
After a 2-8 start, playing against several MIAA A squads, Gerstell won 18 of its last 20 starts.
“We put a solid 32-minute game together from start to finish, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Thompson.
Severn coach VJ Keith expressed disappointment over the loss, but recognizes that he had a special team that was defeated by another very good team.
“I don’t think we played well tonight,” said Keith. “But, I’m proud of our season. It was a special group and I wish the outcome could have been different. Give them credit, they simply took us out of our game.”
GERSTELL 18 12 11 21 — 62
SEVERN 8 12 14 19 — 53
GERSTELL: Rimel 15, Washington 9, Witt 12, Harrison 7, Booker 5, Tillery 6. Carpenter 8. TOTALS 18 22-29 62.
SEVERN: Harrison. 2, Burch. 6, Hall 13, Owens. 19,
Terry 11, Birko 2. TOTALS 22 5-16 53.