• Ben Hall

Patapsco boys basketball program striving under new beginnings

Updated: Apr 13

Back in April, Evan Dougherty received the news that a familiar varsity coaching job would be opening up. He was currently the head coach of the Catonsville High School boys junior varsity basketball team.

Prior to coaching at Catonsville, Dougherty was the head coach at Patapsco High School and General John Stricker Middle School. Stricker Middle School is less than a mile away from Patapsco. All of the students who attend Stricker are zoned to go to Patapsco.

Dougherty was told that the varsity head coaching job at Patapsco became open. Immediately after being told this information, he emailed the Patapsco principal and athletic director to tell them he wanted to apply for the job.

In late May, a few weeks following his interview at the school, Dougherty was named head coach of Patapsco High School varsity boys basketball.

"Oh man I was pumped," head coach Evan Dougherty said when asked what it was like for him when he was named the head coach. "Coaching at the varsity level and leading my own program had always been a goal of mine. And to come back to a community that I know so well, and coach players that I had coached at the middle school/JV level was a dream come true. I had so many former students, players, parents, and coworkers reach out. I felt like I was going home."

Coach Dougherty immediately reached out to Eric Yeager to bring him apart of the staff. Dougherty and Yeager coached and taught together at Stricker. Yeager was the girl's coach and Dougherty was the boy's coach. After Dougherty left Stricker for Catonsville High School, Yeager took over the Stricker boy's team. A week after talking with Dougherty, Yeager agreed to join his coaching staff. Yeager was named junior varsity coach at Patapsco High School.

"When he first approached me about this in May, I wrapped up my last season coaching at Stricker and I was halfway through my Masters program," Yeager said.

"I just thought I had to take the year off from coaching and all that. But then when the opportunity arose, it was 'We're getting the band back together, here we go'. We talked about this four to five years ago and were saying someday it'd be great if we had our own high school program. I took about a week or so to think about it. Originally, he took me as his assistant head coach on varsity and keeping coach Fernando as the head coach on junior varsity. But after running the summer workouts, the idea was thrown out to bring up coach Fernando to be the assistant on varsity and me as the head junior varsity because I know all of these kids coming in from Stricker. Honestly, that has been one of the best decision we've made."

Fernando Garcia is coach Dougherty's assistant coach on varsity. Garcia coached Patapsco's junior varsity team over the last two years. He has also coached some travel and AAU teams in the area. Dougherty actually coached Garcia's son as a 7th and 8th grader at Stricker.

"He has been a huge help to me, especially with community outreach," Dougherty said about Garcia. "I am incredibly lucky to have him with me and have his knowledge and background."

From last season, Patapsco has just four returners from last years varsity squad and one from junior varsity.

So far this season, Patapsco has won four games. In the majority of the games that they've lost, they have been down to the wire. The amount of wins that they have this year doubles what the team had last year under former head coach Brendan Reilly. Reilly is a good friend of coach Dougherty's and has been very helpful even though he is not apart of the program anymore.

“Last year there was some hostility with the team and coach," junior forward Christian Wilson said. "Some players didn’t get along with him and didn’t agree with some of the decision making. But this year, Coach D definitely does a better job of making the team want to commit to what we are doing and buy in more.”

The Patriots are led by co-captains Charles Tyner and Christian Wilson.

Tyner is a senior guard who is the leading scorer for the Patriots. Tyner is averaging 14 points, 3.3 rebounds, three assists, 1.5 steals, and one block per game.

"Charles is our senior leader," Dougherty said. "He is our glue. Charles is one of two four year players in our program. The team feeds off his level of play and attitude. I couldn’t be more proud of the progress that he has made during his time at Patapsco. When I coached Charles as a freshman on Patapsco’s JV team, his first sport was soccer. When I came back and watched him play as a junior, I quickly realized his first sport had definitely become basketball. The improvement that he has made from his freshman to senior year just shows how hard he has worked. I hope to one day watch him play at the next level."

Wilson is the leading rebounder for the Patriots. He is averaging 9.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. Wilson also played varsity last season as a sophomore.

"I have known Christian since he was in 6th grade at Stricker Middle, but had never had the opportunity to coach him," Dougherty said. "His brother, Dontaz Wilson, was a great player and Captain for me at the middle school and JV level, so I expected big things from Chris. And he has lived up to the hype. Christian leads by example. He gets great grades, he is at every practice, and always seems to have a good attitude. Not to mention, he is a rebounding machine."

The two captains also play together outside of school ball as well. Tyner and Wilson play AAU together for Team Crush'Em. Senior guard Dominic Rodgers plays for that team as well.

"It helps us a ton," Tyner said when asked how playing with high school teammates during AAU season helps with chemistry. "It's like a year round thing for us. Even when we're in offseason during the fall, we're always in the gym playing with each other. We look for each other a lot of times because we trust each other. I mean we trust our other teammates too, but we really trust each other because we always play together and know what our games are. Playing AAU, going on those long road trips, and playing teams from all across the country just really helps with chemistry."

This is not the first time Tyner has played under head coach Evan Dougherty. When Tyner was a freshman, he played for Dougherty on junior varsity.

"My freshman year I was a dual sport athlete," Tyner said. "I used to play soccer and came to play basketball just to stay active. Coach D made me really like basketball and that is my main sport now. I used to think I was going professional for soccer and that I was going to be the next big thing. I played basketball for the JV team my freshman year and sat the bench for most of the season. But I loved it and the atmosphere. I just respect Coach Dougherty honestly."

Senior guard Darius Moore was another player who had played for coach Dougherty before next year. Moore played for Dougherty in 8th grade at Stricker and as a freshman at Patapsco.

"I like it a lot," Moore said when asked what it's like reuniting with coach Dougherty. "Especially because it's during my senior year. Out of all the years for him to be able to do this, I'm glad it's my last one. It's good to end off on that note."

A few other players for the Patriots with key roles are Chase Smith, Dominic Rodgers, Darius Moore, Makiah Scott, Khaleel Haynesworth, Jaelen Robinson, and Robert Noakes.

Chase Smith is a junior big who can stretch his game out beyond the arc. He is a key factor for the team and will only improve for next year. Dominic Rodgers is a senior guard who is a true shooter. Rodgers has played a huge impact from the team this year. Darius Moore is a senior guard who does a little bit of everything for the Patriots. Throughout this season, Moore has progressed and played some important minutes.

Makiah Scott is a senior guard who can do everything. He plays hard on both sides of the court and can get to the basket with ease. Khaleel Haynesworth is a senior guard who plays great defense. Haynesworth has started many games for the Patriots this season. Jaelen Robinson and Robert Noakes are senior big men who both play similar. Robinson and Noakes are true big men with touch. Both guys are a huge piece for this team.

The Patriots have eight games remaining on their schedule and then will start the playoffs. Patapsco will look to finish out the year strong and go into the Maryland 3A State Playoffs ready to play. But basketball isn't the only thin that Dougherty and his staff are teaching the players.

"Our main goal is to build the person, not just the player," Dougherty said. "We want to be able to provide these kids with as many tools as possible before they hit the real world. We hope they leave here with good habits that will help them be successful with whatever path they choose.”

Over the next few years, Dougherty and his coaching staff will continue to build this program. This program has a bright future.

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