A year ago, Largo forward John Majors watched much of the team’s run to the Maryland 2A boys’ basketball title game from the bench as a seldom-used reserve. Abdulai Bundu, then a freshman, spent the season on junior varsity, so he was forced to cheer on the Lions as a fan in the Comcast Center stands.
As Largo kicked off their latest playoff run on Tuesday night with a 77-62 win over fourth-seeded Central in a Maryland 2A South first-round game, both players happily took their places right in the middle of the action.
Majors posted 22 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks and Bundu had 22 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks in a dominant effort on the glass that helped the visitors pull away down the stretch in Capitol Heights. The Lions will travel to Marriotts Ridge, a 70-58 winner over Southern, for a Thursday quarterfinal.
“The way the teams come at you [in the playoffs] is way different,” said Bundu, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward who leads the team in scoring. On junior varsity, “I’m so used to teams not coming at me with that much intensity. The playoffs [are] like a whole ‘nother level. Whoever wants it more is going to come out on top.”
From the start, Largo (13-9) gave little indication that most of its key players had never before played significant minutes in a playoff game. The Lions took the lead in the opening minute on a layup by senior Dion Garner and never trailed.
Central, which finished second in Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A just ahead of Largo, put up a fight for most of the first three-plus quarters but wilted down the stretch with Majors and Bundu delivering most of the decisive blows.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the opening half, the Falcons (13-8) trimmed Largo’s lead to 47-46 midway through the third quarter. Bundu sparked the next basket, using his long reach to save a ball well past the end line under the Central basket to senior teammate Connie Ihearauh for an easy layup.
Majors scored Largo’s first eight points of the final quarter in the span of 2 minutes 22 seconds, including three second-chance baskets. By the end of that run, the Lions led by 10 points and were well on their way to the next round.
“I watched a lot last year and I just looked at how those guys led the younger guys, what they did to get there,” said Majors, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a win at Central earlier this month. “I’m trying to do the same thing to get my team there this year.”
Central senior Calvin Lovitt nailed five three-pointers en route to a team-high 21 points.
Northwestern advances to play second-seeded DuVal in a Thursday quarterfinal, while Bowie, the only team to beat No. 6 Eleanor Roosevelt so far, closes its season at 12-9.
The Maryland 3A West bracket featured several mild surprises with Einstein beating Watkins Mill, 59-52, and Northwood dropping Rockville, 60-54. Damascus also advanced in that region, beating Linganore, 58-48.
The Titans (10-13) fell to the Wolverines (13-10) twice in the regular season, but junior Joe Bradshaw posted 17 points and 13 rebounds on Tuesday to keep the Kensington school’s season alive with a visit to North Hagerstown coming next.
The Gladiators (7-16) snapped a four-game losing streak with the win over the Rams (12-11) and advance to meet South Hagerstown on Thursday.