Boys’ basketball: Eleanor Roosevelt finding its way with a new core after championship

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post - Eleanor Roosevelt graduated six of its top seven scorers from last season’s Maryland 4A champions, but senior guard Andre Fox leads a new core that aims to contend in Prince George’s 4A.

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In its 2012-13 Maryland 4A championship season, Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t lose a game until January 18. The Raiders, who went 49-6 over the past two seasons, never lost again.

So when Roosevelt (2-1, 2-0 Prince George’s 4A) found itself on the wrong side of an 81-42 loss to No. 6 DeMatha at the end of its season opener, the Raiders were in entirely unfamiliar territory.

Contrails from jet planes passing overhead intersect the National Museum of Art in Washington, Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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But many of the players who will be keys to the Raiders’ season are in unfamiliar territory just by virtue of the elevated importance of their roles. Six of the top seven scorers from last year’s 27-1 team graduated, and of those who return, just two played significant minutes in 2012-13.

“Most of the guys weren’t part of last year really,” Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell said. “It’s different. . . . I’m excited about the season. Our players, I feel like they have something to prove.”

The Raiders’ leading returning scorer — senior guard Andre Fox (5.3 points per game in 2012-13) — has certainly proven something through his team’s first three games: he’s going to score. Fox has scored 24.7 points per game so far this season, including a 38-point eruption in an 86-83 win over Suitland on Thursday.

“I knew he would score a lot,” O’Connell said. “I think our guys are doing a really good job of finding him, and he made everything against Suitland. He’s really good. He was good last year and just kind of under the radar since we had so many good guys.”

Fox and the Raiders rebounded quickly from the tough opener with the win over Suitland (1-2, 0-2) and a 64-47 defeat of High Point (0-3, 0-2) the following night. They’ll have to continue to grow into their new responsibilities as they hit the heart of a challenging Prince George’s 4A schedule in a league with no prohibitive favorite. Roosevelt’s won the 4A South region in each of the past four seasons. . . .

Bowie (4-0, 2-0 Prince George’s 4A) has gotten off to a hot start that’s turned heads throughout the county. After a 71-39 drubbing of Anne Arundel County foe Arundel (2-2) in their season opener, the Bulldogs have knocked off two teams expected to contend in PG 4A this season: Suitland and C.H. Flowers (2-2, 1-1), both by double digits.

The Bulldogs have done it with a dynamic backcourt pairing of senior point guard Jared Gray (20 points per game) and shooting guard Dejuan Smith (18.8 points per game). With veterans in the backcourt and athletic, if less experienced, players down low, Bowie may remain near the top of the Prince George’s County standings late into the season. They’ll be tested Tuesday when they head to No. 11 Wise (2-0, 2-0), one of the more experienced and complete teams in the area.

 
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