BERLIN- The 34th Annual Governor’s Challenge holiday basketball tournament wrapped up last week after games were played practically around the clock for five days with decent results for local teams despite their final records.
The Governor’s Challenge, held at various locations in the Salisbury area for five days between Christmas and New Year’s, featured some of the top boys’ and girls’ varsity programs from several states all over the region. Since its inception, the annual tournament has grown to become the largest high school basketball tournament in Maryland and perhaps the largest on the east coast.
Roughly 100 boys and girls programs from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, New York, New Jersey competed all week, mainly at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, although games were played at satellite locations including Wicomico and Bennett High Schools and the Salisbury School.
Stephen Decatur’s boys’ varsity basketball team enjoyed a successful tournament splitting two games against tough teams from Virginia and Maryland’s western shore. In its tournament opener, the Seahawks edged Battlefield High of Virginia in a tight game, 64-59. Decatur trailed early, but caught up to the Bobcats and slowly pulled away. Battlefield tied the game in the fourth, but the Seahawks made their free throws down the stretch and pulled out the 64-59 win. Keve Aluma led Decatur with 14 points and a remarkable 19 rebounds, while Ja’Quan Johnson scored 16 and grabbed nine boards.
In their second game, the Seahawks fell to Bowie, a 4A powerhouse from the western shore, 64-58, after rallying from an early deficit. Decatur trailed 12-2 early as they struggled to figure out Bowie’s pressure. By halftime, however, the Seahawks had cut the lead to 27-23.
Bowie steadily pulled away during the decisive third, building a 41-32 lead by the end of the period. The Seahawks did not roll over, however, and cut the lead to 58-55 with time running down in the fourth. Bowie made its key free throws down the stretch and pulled out the 64-58 win, giving Decatur a split in its two Governor’s Challenge games. For the record, Bowie went on to win its bracket championship.
Several other Lower Shore teams competed in the tournament with varying results. The Worcester Prep boys lost their opener to Kings Christian Academy, 47-43, in a tight game. The Mallards then fell to Mardela, 54-50, in another game decided by just four points. Against Mardela, the Worcester boys trailed 28-20 at the half and fell behind, 41-27, by the end of the third, but rallied with a 16-point fourth quarter to finish the game close at 54-50.
The Pocomoke boys had a solid tournament, beating Baltimore area powerhouse Randallstown, in its opener before losing to C.H. Flowers in its second contest. Parkside had a similar outcome in the Governor’s Challenge, beating Patterson in its opener before falling to Friends in its second contest.