Bowie boys’ basketball coach Cedric Holbrook has worried all season about putting too much expectation on a team that features just two seniors in its regular rotation. Before sending the Bulldogs out to play third-ranked Eleanor Roosevelt, he told his players he’d be proud regardless of the result as long as they played hard.
Bowie not only battled the previously unbeaten Raiders for 40 minutes on Friday night in Greenbelt, but Holbrook’s youthful squad thrived in the the contest’s most pressure-packed moments on the way to a 60-55 overtime victory. Sophomore Develle Phillips put the Bulldogs ahead for good, hitting a layup with 39 seconds left in the extra period, and the Raiders missed a three-pointer to tie in the final seconds.
“We’ve been in games like this all year,” said Holbrook, whose team lost to Eleanor Roosevelt three times last season. “All our games have been close, and we found a way to win this one. That’s all. Honestly, if we continue to grow as a team, we’ll be able to be competitive with the best teams in the [Prince George’s] 4A.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (12-1, 9-1 PG 4A) has had plenty of experience winning tight games early this season. The Raiders had trailed in the second half of five victories, but Bowie (9-4, 6-4) turned the tables to stop the defending Maryland 4A runner-up’s unbeaten run.
The Bulldogs trailed most of the final quarter before battling back to lead at 52-51 when junior Dejaun Smith (14 points) drained a contested three-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation. After the teams traded turnovers, Eleanor Roosevelt senior Malachi Alexander (16 points) was fouled with less than a second left and hit one of two free throws to force overtime.
“I thought we played really well to build the lead in the second half,” Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell said. “We just didn’t close the game tonight. We’ve got to work on making a few extra plays to close that game out.”
In the extra period, Bowie scored on its first offensive trip and never trailed again. Phillips hit the game’s final field goal off a pass from senior Jalen Robinson to give the Bulldogs a 56-54 lead.
The Raiders couldn’t score on either of their final two possessions with a turnover down by one and then the missed three-pointer that would have tied it. Bowie senior Michael Giles (16 points) snagged the rebound to seal the victory, hitting a pair of free throws with two seconds left to set the final margin.
“I was holding my breath,” Robinson said of Roosevelt’s final chance. “I was deep under the sea, and then when he missed that shot, I floated up. I could breath again. It was a pretty cool feeling.”
With the loss, the Raiders’ lead over No. 17 DuVal atop the Prince George’s 4A standings dropped to one game. The Tigers (12-2, 8-2) won their twelfth straight game on Friday, beating High Point, 76-51. Eleanor Roosevelt and DuVal will meet next Friday in Lanham in a rematch of a game the Raiders won on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by senior Trevor Evans.