Frederick County’s Urbana and nearby Damascus in Montgomery County are two high schools rich in football history.
Fittingly, when the schools’ boys basketball teams faced each other in Thursday’s Class 3A West Region quarterfinal round, they engaged in what Urbana coach John Cooper described as football on the hardwood.
“It just turns into a bump and grind game,” Cooper said. “When we were set in our defense, they couldn’t score. When they were set in their defense, we couldn’t score. It was just bump and grind.”
When he looked at the region before last week’s start to the tournament, Cooper added, Damascus was the one team he did not want to see on the third-seeded Hawks’ half of the draw. The matchup, with Damascus’ size and physicality, Cooper said, is a tough one.
But Urbana, the 2010 region champion, brushed the Swarmin’ Hornets aside Thursday, 55-41. The Hawks (19-4) will host Albert Einstein on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for a spot in the regional final.
Urbana was able to use Damascus’ (11-11) size to its advantage Thursday. Using the speed of their guards, the Hawks pushed the ball up court quickly to score before Damascus could settle on defense.
“We got out and ran. They were a little slower getting down. ... We can sit down on defense and play with anyone,” said quick-footed Urbana senior Darren Ambush, who tallied 10 points Thursday.
After a tightly contested first quarter, which ended with Urbana ahead, 13-10, the Hawks pulled away in the second quarter to end the half ahead 27-14, and Damascus never recovered.
Urbana was propelled by its transition scoring Thursday, but Ambush also split Damascus’ defense well to create openings for the Hawks. And they took advantage. Six Urbana players scored six points or more: Brendan Wharton (13), Thomas Utt (13), Ambush (10), Devin Tiffany (six), Ian Eversull (six).
The Swarmin’ Hornets’ offense took a big hit when 3-point specialist Cade Woody showed up to Wednesday’s practice with a fractured thumb. They were unable to get much going from the perimeter Thursday without him.
Damascus’ typically strong inside game didn’t pick up much of the slack, either. Leading scorer, 6-foot-3 Rashard Budd (12.6 points per game), finished with eight points.
Junior guard Connor Burke carried the Swarmin’ Hornets on his shoulders Thursday. He led the team with 13 points and was the aggressor — he made his way to the free throw line 10 times and converted eight.
“[Woody] is our only shooter. Without him on offense ... [Urbana] just outhustled us. They had everything, big men, shooters. Their inside game hurt us,” Burke said. “It was hard to see the seniors, to see them play their last game, I was just trying to give everything I had on the court. It was our last time playing together.”
Several players on the floor Thursday are also football players who were there last fall when Urbana upset the top-seeded Swarmin’ Hornets at Damascus in the first round of the Class 3A West Region tournament. The Hawks made sure Damascus didn’t return the favor Thursday.
“This is a fine rivalry, the schools are close to each other, it’s a fun rivalry. We have a lot of respect for Damascus, we know their tradition,” Cooper said.
Urbana 55, Damascus 41
Damascus 10 4 11 16 — 41
Urbana 13 14 9 19 — 55
Damascus (11-11): Connor Burke 13, Rashard Budd 8, Cade Woody 7, Stephon Jacob 7, Deondre Jolley 4.
Urbana (19-4): Brendan Wharton 13, Thomas Utt 13, Darren Ambush 10, Ian Eversull 6, Devin Tiffany 6, Cole Burdette 4.