It will be a new experience collectively for the current Pumas, none of whom had played more than a year of varsity basketball at the Upper Marlboro school when the season began. But senior Markell Young is plenty familiar with the state’s biggest stage.
Young transferred from North Point where he made two trips to Comcast Center, celebrating a state title with the Waldorf school in 2011. The 6-foot guard did not see action in that state final win over Patterson, but last year, he was in the starting lineup when the Eagles fell to the Raiders, 65-63, in a state semifinal.
On Tuesday, Young came through with his best performance of the season in an 85-54 drubbing of No. 12 DuVal, finishing with 27 points and seven rebounds. He’ll have to be in top form again tonight if the third-seeded Pumas are going to continue their playoff run.
“We’ve got to stay focused,” said Young, who is the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.6 points per game. “There’s going to be a lot of adversity, a lot of distractions, but you’ve got to stay focused and take it one game at a time.”
Young provided an instant spark against DuVal, knocking down the first of his three three-pointers to open the scoring and begin a run of 10 straight Wise points before the Tigers ever got on the board. He also went eight-of-nine from the foul line, scoring at least five points in every quarter.
“Markell knows what it’s like to be in big environments like this, hostile environments,” Garner said after Tuesday’s road victory. “He stepped up big-time for us tonight, which we expect for him to do all the time.”
Young picked a good time to shine, not just because of the win-or-go home stakes. Coaches from a pair of Division II schools, Washington Adventist and Fairmont State in West Virginia, were in Lanham, in part to take a look at the guard.
Wise Coach Rob Garner said Young has also had interest from Augusta State, a Division II school in Georgia, and he expects the senior to end up at that level. He added that Young carries a 3.5 grade point average and will be a full-qualifier academically.
“He’s a great kid,” Garner said, “and now he’s just waiting for the opportunity.”