Weekend rewind: Boys’ basketball

January 23, 2012

With top-ranked DeMatha losing twice last week, there was considerable debate among The Post’s high school staff before deciding to make Gonzaga this week’s top-ranked team.

The Eagles are coming off a week in which they defeated the top-ranked teams in Baltimore (Patterson) and Washington (DeMatha) while remaining undefeated despite playing without one of their stars.

Gonzaga, which hopes to have All-Met point guard Nate Britt (bruised calf) back in the lineup this week, holds a victory over Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia, which is ranked in ESPN’s top 50, and beat Riverside of Reserve, La., when it was ranked by ESPN.

(This week’s Top 20, plus interactive poll, can be found here.)

An informal sampling of area coaches the past two days left no doubt who they believe should be No. 1: Gonzaga, which last claimed the top slot to close the 2007-08 season.

A strong case also could be made for last week’s No. 2 team, Montrose Christian, which has an eight-game winning streak.

Montrose Christian (13-1) won the Iolani Classic in December for the first time, a prestigious national tournament in Hono­lulu that included two victories over teams ranked by ESPN — Orlando Christian Prep and Westbury (Texas) Christian. The Mustangs also have beaten Kecoughtan, one of the top teams in Virginia.

But the rest of the Mustangs’ resume does little to inspire. T.C. Williams, which opened the season ranked No. 20 but has not been ranked since, is the only opponent on the Montrose Christian schedule to appear in The Post’s rankings this season.

Northern Region

After a loss earlier this month to Westfield in which it shot 24 percent from the field and faltered defensively, Robinson Coach Brian Nelson gathered his team and told them to regroup and focus on the next opponent: Oakton.

The Rams opened up a 41-14 halftime lead on Jan.13 against the Cougars, and the lessons from the change between an ugly loss and dominant win could prove pivotal for a team that has perhaps exceeded expectations this season.

In the days before a game last week against Chantilly, Nelson showed the team video from one quarter of the Westfield loss and one quarter of the Oakton win. The lesson: Here’s how we play when we play hard, and here’s how we play when we don’t.

The Rams (12-4, 3-1 AAA Concorde) downed Chantilly, one of the district’s traditional powers, 73-54, on Friday night .

“It gave us a good clear concept of what happens when you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do and you don’t execute and you don’t play defense,” Robinson senior guard Robert Pillow said. “There’s a big separation between us being successful and us losing like that.”

Robinson has relied on its defense this season, and Nelson said he has a roster that gives the Rams an opportunity to play a style they had not been able to before.

“We’re a pretty athletic team, we have strong guards,” Nelson said. “We do a lot of trapping, a lot of pressing. When play well, we’re able to create easy baskets off defense.”

Pillow, the team’s lone returning starter, moved from point guard to the two-guard this season and has taken on more of a scorer’s role. While his 39 threes are tops in the Northern Region, Pillow has also added the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, Nelson said.

That has helped open things up for Tristian Crenshaw, who leads the team in steals and is averaging 15.4 points per game. Pillow is averaging 14.4.

“We saw the changes we had to make and coach went through everything separately and slowly, giving us a good point of view and we took it to heart,” Pillow said. “The loss to Westfield changed everything and we’ve played hard ever since.”

Montgomery

Tomazye Anderson already had one memorable moment at the basket in front of Springbrook’s bench. However, making a game-winning layup as time expired to beat neighborhood rival Blake, 49-47, was a much better feeling.

“The whole crowd was screaming [so] I didn’t hear anything but the crowd,” said Anderson, a 5-foot-11 junior guard. “Then my teammates rushed on the court and that’s when I knew I got it off in time.”

It was during a pep rally at that same end of the court two years earlier that Anderson’s basketball career took a year-long detour. Then a member of the Silver Spring school’s junior varsity team, Anderson decided to try to dunk, but never got close to the rim.

“They said I slipped on a pencil or bottle cap,” he said. “My bone just popped out of place.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell said. “He was in a cast for the next six months. It was a terrible injury.”

Anderson subsequently transferred to Don Bosco for the 2010-11 school year, averaging 8.8 points, but returned to Springbrook this season and increased his scoring to 11.4 points per game for the ninth-ranked Blue Devils.

Friday’s game was tied in the closing seconds, when Blake had a shot blocked by Timmy Christian. Demetric Austin grabbed the rebound and passed to Charles Taylor, who found Anderson just across midcourt.

“I tried to leak out and get a clear shot at the basket,” Anderson said. “I caught a last-second glance at [the clock] so I just tried to hurry up and get a shot off. In the back of my head I thought about [the clock] but I normally rely on my speed to get most of my shots off. So I counted on that and luckily I got the basket.”

Prince George’s

With a 68-55 win over a tough Bowie team and a 64-59 victory over Bladensburg, C.H. Flowers boys stay in control of a crowded Prince George’s 4A field. The Jaguars (9-3, 9-1) had three double-digit scorers in the Bowie win and junior guard Brandon Green led the way with 18 points in the Bladensburg victory.

Three teams, all who won their games last week, sit with two losses in the conference: No. 15 DuVal, No. 16 Eleanor Roosevelt and Suitland.

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