Senior Magic Harris had talked with his teammates all week about the opportunity presented by a senior night showdown with the Tigers, and the youthful Clippers delivered a memorable performance, leading wire-to-wire in the victory with Harris supplying a game-high 19 points and seven assists.
“They’re young, but they’re not going to back down from anyone,” said Harris, one of two seniors in the regular rotation. “They know I love each and every person on the team, and they played hard for me. I was blessed that they did it. That meant a lot to me.”
Named by his father whose other two children were teenagers when he arrived, Harris has endured a somewhat frustrating senior year with opposing teams devoting constant attention to slowing him down. The 5-foot-11 point guard averages 15.4 points and 4.8 assists per game in his fourth varsity season. Meantime, Oxon Hill (7-12, 5-11 PG 4A) has struggled to keep up in a deep league, dropping six of eight games entering Friday.
Because of Harris’s importance on the offensive end, Oxon Hill Coach Sam Harris has been reluctant to ask his son to match up on the opponent’s top player this season. He can’t risk the team’s offensive spark plug getting sent to the bench with foul trouble.
This time, Magic Harris asked for the chance to check DuVal junior Michael Cunningham, who had torched the Clippers for 36 points in an 81-69 win on Jan. 11.
Harris also remembered how Cunningham outplayed him in a middle school championship game a few years ago when his team from Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Temple Hills fell to Cunningham’s Ernest Just Middle School squad.
“He always picks his game up against good players,” Sam Harris said. “If there’s another great talent out there, Magic wants to compete with them. With it being senior night, it just added more motivation to the equation.”
True to form, Harris set the tone, draining back-to-back threes to spot Oxon Hill a quick 6-0 lead. It was Cunningham who ended up with a pair of early fouls, though he returned and posted a fine stat line with 15 points and nine rebounds. The versatile guard notched a triple-double in Tuesday’s 68-63 win over Wise.
Harris cooled off from outside after the fast start, but he began putting his teammates in good spots to score and they often converted. Senior center Monty Artis and sophomore forward Emmanuel Hunter both added 15 points, helping the Clippers maintain their lead down the stretch to beat DuVal, which had won 15 of its past 16 games.
“It was two good high school guards going at it, playing hard,” Harris said. “We both knew we couldn’t take any plays off.”
Sam Harris, who led Crossland to the 3A state tournament in 2005, has been courtside for many of Magic’s best basketball memories. As a youngster, Magic would hang out at the Cavaliers’ practices, often getting scolded for dribbling while his father was teaching.
For about eight years, Harris coached the Sky’s the Limit AAU team on which Magic played point guard beside University of Maryland-bound shooting guard Roddy Peters.
Harris took over at Oxon Hill last year, posting a 12-29 record so far, and he said he plans to continue coaching the team after Magic graduates. Friday’s victory provided the latest highlight for the pair as both father and son said they’d remember the postgame scene for a long time.
“It was a great moment,” Magic Harris said. “It was like a college atmosphere.”
Prince George’s County boys’ championship matchup set
Heading into the final week of the regular season, No. 8 Eleanor Roosevelt (Prince George’s 4A) and No. 9 Potomac (Md.) (Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A) have locked up league titles. The pair will meet in the county title game on Feb. 20 at Wise.
Eleanor Roosevelt (19-1, 15-1) holds a three-game lead in the loss column over Wise and No. 20 DuVal. Though the Raiders have won the Maryland 4A South five of the past seven years, they will be making their first appearance in the county championship, which began in 2004.
Potomac (Md.) (15-2, 13-1) has won 12 straight games and jumped to a four-game edge in the loss column on Central. The Falcons have dropped three of their past four games. It’s the first league title for the Wolverines since 2004-2005 when they went unbeaten on the way to the Maryland 2A title. They beat Suitland, 57-52, in the county title game that season.
On the girls’ side, Gwynn Park (17-2, 16-0) needs to win one of its two games this week to assure a second straight Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A title. No. 7 Eleanor Roosevelt (19-0, 16-0) can clinch the Prince George’s 4A title by beating No. 16 Bowie (18-2, 15-1) on Tuesday. If the Raiders drop that game and both teams end up tied with one league loss, the spot in the county title game would be decided by a coin flip.