The C.H. Flowers boys’ basketball team isn’t the most visible nor talked about team in Prince George’s County 4A. But while Wise cruised through the conference and defending 4A state champions Roosevelt made a quick recovery from the loss of most of its championship pieces, the Jaguars quietly put together a 16-5 season. Save a few bumps in the road — an early season loss to Bowie and a loss in the season finale to DuVal — Flowers beat the teams it was supposed to beat and earned a first-round bye.
The Jaguars did it with versatile defense and slashing guard play, backed by the presence of high-flying 6-7 big man Clint Robinson, who averaged just fewer than 15 points this season. Robinson’s elevation relative to area baskets is often ridiculous, but it’s not his big slams or powerful blocks that he thinks will help the Jaguars to a deep playoff run. Instead, he believes the work he’s done on diversifying his defensive skill set will help Flowers most against the size of No. 6 Wise or the sharp-shooting of third-seeded Eleanor Roosevelt, both of which are in the Jaguars’ half of the grueling 4A South region bracket.
“One of the things I worked on this year was guarding in space — I can guard multiple positions, so matchup with most teams — like with Roosevelt who is more of a shooting team — is not really much of a problem,” Robinson said. ”We feel confident [against every kind of team] because we have size, also, like Wise, but they have a lot more size at different positions than we do, so we just try to manipulate their defense to match their offense, so that’s how we try to keep them at bay.”
Flowers’ defense has morphed to fit its competition well this season, holding opponents to fewer than 58 points per game, second best in Prince George’s County to Wise. That defense has helped the Jaguars become one of the most consistent teams in the County. Save that early season slip-up against Bowie and trip in the season finale against DuVal, Flowers has pushed top teams (losing to Roosevelt by one), and taken care of those below it in the standings.
“We’re very confident right now,” said Flowers guard Patrick Johnson, whose emergence as a 13.8 points-per-game threat in the backcourt has propelled the Jaguars’ offense. “Like the last game at DuVal, we were just rusty — we had like a whole week off because of the snow. We really hadn’t had a chance to practice. But you know, we started to pick it up toward the end of the game. So everybody’s pretty much confident heading into playoffs, not scared or nervous. We’re just ready to play.”
Johnson and senior guard Devin Shuler (13 points per game), who transferred to Flowers prior to this year, provide a strong one-two punch offensively that have no problem matching up with a Prince George’s County league filled with talented backcourts. But while Johnson and Shuler are a necessary combination given the strong guard play of teams like Bowie, Wise, Roosevelt, and others, Robinson provides a post threat that few teams outside the top-seeded Pumas can count on.
“Against most of the teams we’re playing, I’m usually the biggest guy on the floor, so I try to take advantage of that,” said Robinson, who’s upped his scoring this season and emerged as a nightly double-double threat. “I think my game has evolved pretty well over the past few years. I’m not too much of a back-to-the-basket player, so I’ve kind of expanded my game to having a mid-range jump shot and having the ball a little more.”
That improvement took hold over the summer, and as Robinson charged around the AAU circuit, coaches took notice of the explosive big man. By the time this season was underway, he’d received offers from Austin Peay, Hampton, Howard, Gardner-Webb, Towson and UNC-Greensboro. He says George Washington, which began taking serious interest during the high school season, is also coming on strong now. Robinson said he plans to make his choice in the next couple weeks.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 15
Robinson hit 15 free throws in a game against Parkdale this year. He’s shooting 66 percent from the line overall.
– A huge Tuesday night of high school basketball playoff action was headlined by the boys’ WCAC championship game, as Paul VI and DeMatha dueled to determine the 2013-14 champion.
– It was Paul VI and St. John’s fighting for the WCAC girls crown. See which rival took home this year’s crown.
– DCIAA played its championship games Tuesday night, and the No. 17 Roosevelt boys and Bell girls earned titles.
– The No. 2 Potomac (Va.) boys stayed perfect with a win over Potomac Falls, and the Panther girls advanced, too.
PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Check out some photos from Paul VI’s win in the WCAC girls title game.
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The Virginia Independent School League playoffs feature some great early-round matchups tonight, including the MAC’s Potomac School vs. No. 3 Paul VI, and St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes at No. 11 O’Connell.