Technically, it didn’t matter whether Wise guard Justice Sneed hit his free throws in the final two minutes of the Prince George’s County Championship on Thursday. Sneed’s No. 6 Pumas and their opponents, the No. 9 Potomac Wolverines, had already won their respective leagues. They already had locked up No. 1 seeds in the Maryland 4A and 2A South, respectively, and they already had earned first-round byes into the region quarterfinals.
But with the game tied and Prince George’s supremacy on the line, those free throws and the bragging rights they could clinch for the Pumas meant a great deal to the swarms of fans packing the Wise bleachers. Fans of the teams involved, players and coaches from Largo, Suitland, Gwynn Park and Roosevelt, and neighbors from all around the county watched as Sneed sank 6 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes to give Wise a 68-64 victory.
“As far as states, it doesn’t stack up with it at all,” Sneed said. “But it’s a very good accomplishment. That’s definitely what we needed heading into the playoffs.”
Against heralded Potomac guards Randall Broddie and Dion Wiley, it was Sneed who stole the headlines, knocking down four threes in the first half and five overall, forcing the Wolverines’ 1-3-1 zone away from the basket and opening up the inside for barreling big man Micah Till. With Sneed hitting from deep and Till powering his way to the rim, the Pumas (19-2) opened up a 12-point lead at halftime.
But the Wolverines’ talent awoke in the third quarter as Broddie and Wiley combined for 11 points in eight minutes for Potomac (18-4). Forward Anthony Smith added three tough inside buckets to tie the game heading to the fourth.
“We’ve all seen Potomac play,” Sneed said. “That’s not the way they play. So we knew coming into the beginning of the second half they were going to try to make a run at us. We just had to keep our composure.”
Sneed led the Pumas in the composure category, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter alone to hold off the Wolverines’ charge. He finished with 22 points, and Till added 18.
The Pumas toppled Coach Rob Garner in celebration after the final buzzer, revealing the importance of the win to the county’s basketball community, if not in the standings.
“Potomac, that’s a great team,” Sneed said. “Being able to beat them, knowing in the playoffs we might not see a team as tough as them, that sets us up very nicely.”
The first half of the Prince George’s girls’ title game between Largo and No. 1 Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t pretty. It took three minutes for either team to score, and by halftime of a sloppy foul fest, Roosevelt had stumbled through the rhythmless start to an eight-point lead.
At halftime came a “you’re better than that” speech from Coach Delton Fuller. In the third quarter came Kaila Charles, who scored 13 points by quarter’s end to open the Raiders’ lead to 23 as Roosevelt ran away for an eventual 71-35 victory.
“Coach said, ‘You guys are better than this. You got to wake up,’ ” Charles said. “We woke up.”
By the fourth quarter, the rest of the Raiders (21-0) had joined Charles, particularly Octavia Wilson, who took off late to doom the Lions (15-8). Both Charles and Wilson finished with 26 points in a win that avenged a loss to Gwynn Park in last year’s county championship game, which spoiled a then-perfect Raiders record.