Boys’ basketball: Largo rides Bundu past Central, 81-74

Throughout Tuesday’s boys’ basketball game between Largo and Central, Abdulai Bundu was on the defensive as Central players relentlessly attacked the long-armed Largo forward around the basket. Though Bundu’s presence altered a number of shots, Central’s approach eventually began to wear on Bundu, who picked up his fourth foul late in the fourth quarter.

But with the Lions clinging to a slim lead in the final minute of the pivotal Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A matchup, Bundu threw caution to the wind, rising high to pin a Central layup attempt against the glass and secure the Lions’ 81-74 win in Capitol Heights.

“We were up and there was only a little bit of time left, so I thought if I’m going to get my last foul, I might as well go hard to make a play,” said Bundu, a 6-foot-8 junior who finished with 31 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks. “The way he extended the ball, I thought I could get it clean and I got it.”

Coming on the heels of Monday’s upset of No. 10 Potomac (Md.), the Lions (8-1, 6-0) thwarted a strong conference foe for the second straight night, strengthening their hold on first place in the league.

Bundu recorded 11 points and eight rebounds in the first quarter to help the Lions take early control in the back-and-forth game. But after briefly going to the bench with his second foul, Central stole the momentum with a 19-5 second-quarter run, fueled by a transition offense.

With the host Falcons (7-2, 4-2) holding a 37-36 halftime lead and Bundu slowed by foul trouble, Lions Coach Lewis Howard turned elsewhere. Nathaniel Manning responded, scoring eight of his 15 points in the third quarter on strong drives to the rim. Then, Aaron Thomas began the fourth with seven straight points to extend Largo’s lead to 66-59.

Central’s Davon Taylor (29 points) tried to bring the Falcons back behind his sharpshooting, but the Falcons were hurt by six fouls on charges and several turnovers on cross-court passes. Once Central’s Kenneth Pettaway fouled out with five minutes left, it freed up Bundu to score nine points down the stretch and close out the game.

“This is a team that we’ve got,” Howard said. “This is probably the deepest team I’ve had since 2007, where we can go 10 or 11 deep. With Bundu playing aggressive and a different guy making a difference every night, it’s big for us.”

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