Suitland senior Roddy Peters is on the road to recovery after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder on Dec. 21. The University of Maryland-bound guard shed his sling last week and remains on track for a likely return to the court sometime in May.
Meantime, the Rams have hardly missed a beat since Peters left the lineup, winning six of seven games without their top scorer. The team continues to hold a place in the top half of the Prince George’s 4A standings after knocking off Parkdale and Laurel last week, showcasing an ability to slow down the pace and grind out victories.
“It’s been interesting,” Coach George McClure said. “The kids miss Roddy a lot, but they’ve embraced the challenge. . . . From the first practice up to this point, we’re just a totally different team. Now that’s not a knock on anybody or anything, but we understood we’d have to play a different style if we wanted to have any shot at success.”
Suitland (9-4, 7-3 PG 4A) entered the season with Peters as its lone returning varsity player, and McClure found out early on that the third-team All-Met pick would be shelved before the new year by the season-ending surgery.
McClure wanted to make sure the top players had some experience playing without Peters, so he’d periodically place the guard with the second group during scrimmages at practice in his final weeks before surgery. Despite the sore shoulder, Peters averaged 21.2 points per game as the Rams started 3-3.
With Peters, Suitland favored a more uptempo game, allowing the dynamic guard to create in the open floor. The Rams averaged 74.3 points per game with Peters in the lineup compared with 60.9 points per game without him.
McClure has put more emphasis on defense and rebounding of late and his squad has consistently found ways to win with scores in the 50s. The team’s lone loss in the current run came against Bowie, 78-76, on Jan. 8, but it has not allowed more than 51 points in any of the six victories.
“They seem to have really come together as a group, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” McClure said. “It’s going to pick up now. We’re not surprising anybody anymore.”
Senior Chris Morgan replaced Peters in the starting lineup and has averaged 10.7 points in the past seven games. The 6-foot-2 forward had never been academically eligible to compete for the District Heights school before this season.
Senior Savon Walker, a junior varsity player last season, has adapted to a more traditional point guard role in the newlook offense, while junior Gerard Gray, a center who transferred from Carroll, has led Suitland in scoring with 14.3 points per game. The team beat Laurel, 52-45, on Friday, despite Gray sitting out with a back injury.
“It’s been very interesting matching some of these personalities together and that kind of thing,” McClure said. “The kids have been receptive to the coaching, so it hasn’t been bad. It’s been a challenge, but I can’t say it’s been a bad challenge.”