Boys’ basketball: Riverdale Baptist takes over No. 1 spot with 12-game win streak


Chinanu Onuaku and Riverdale Baptist ascended to the top spot in the Post Top 20 this week. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Riverdale Baptist Coach Lou Wilson wouldn’t call this year’s team his deepest. That distinction would likely be held for the 2005 team that featured players like Michael Beasley, Nolan Smith and Devin Sweetney and went 33-1. But Wilson is certainly aware of the wealth of options at his disposal on this year’s Crusaders, which took over the No. 1 spot in The Post Top 20 boys’ basketball rankings after extending their win streak to 12 games.

“We spread our wealth around, because with this team, defenses can’t key in on one guy,” Wilson said. “We’ve been distributing the ball well and if somebody is in foul trouble or having an off night, we can go about 12 deep to make up for that.”

In Saturday’s game against eighth-ranked and Capital Beltway Athletic Association rival Clinton Christian, Crusaders center Chinanu Onuaku was forced to sit out a big chunk of the second quarter after picking up his third foul. The absence of the Louisville recruit allowed Clinton Christian (9-2) to gain momentum and briefly take its first lead of the game. But the Crusaders quickly responded by feeding two of their other talented post players, Taron Oliver and Alex Long. The two ultimately combined for 23 points and 13 rebounds and the Crusaders used a third-quarter run to take the lead for good before winning 71-67.

Though the Eagles sliced into that deficit behind Jon Davis’s 24 points, it wasn’t enough to avoid their second loss in a row or to overcome big shots by Dequan Abrom, who finished with a team-high 16 points.

Abrom is one of five different players who have led the Crusaders (17-2) in scoring during a game this season and one of 15 players to have scored for the team this year. With Friday’s game against Maryland power Calvert Hall marking the second of 10 consecutive road games for the Crusaders, Wilson will depend on the depth and chemistry of his team even more as they strive for continued success.

The Crusaders were led to victory against the Eagles by Louisville commit Chinanu Onuaku. (Video by Julian Toliver for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post/The Washington Post)

“We’ll be road warriors for the next few weeks, but it’ll be a good challenge for us,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can keep playing together as a team and continue to do the things we know we’re capable of doing so we can hold on to that number one spot.”

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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