On a team filled with newcomers, Wise senior Markell Young sticks out for his experience. In two varsity seasons at North Point, the 6-foot guard made a pair of trips to the Maryland 4A state tournament at Comcast Center, helping the Waldorf school celebrate its first state title in 2011.
Back in the postseason, Young scored a career-high 27 points Tuesday in an 85-54 upset win over No. 12 DuVal that moved Wise within a victory of a berth in the state tournament.
The Pumas backed up a smothering pressure defense with a season-high 10 three-pointers to cruise past the Tigers in Lanham and avenge a pair of regular season losses. The Upper Marlboro school clinched a spot in the Maryland 4A South region final on Friday opposite No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt, which beat C.H. Flowers, 71-52, to advance.
“My role is to lead this team,” said Young, who moved in with his father before the season to necessitate the transfer. “I’ve been there before. I know what it takes to lead the team, keep everybody together and stay focused.”
Wise (19-5) had won 16 of 18 games coming in, but both of the team’s losses in the past two months came to DuVal. The Pumas scored the game’s first 10 points and never looked back, leading by as many as 27 points in the opening half.
The visitors knocked down 8 of 12 three-point attempts before halftime. Young and senior D.J. Nedab both hit three deep balls and 6-foot-5 forward Micah Till (10 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks) added another.
DuVal (18-5) could never get comfortable with leading scorer Michael Cunningham held to a season-low six points, and Wise kept pouring it on. The Pumas scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to take their largest lead at 72-33 on Young’s layup with 6 minutes 52 seconds remaining.
“That’s playoff basketball,” DuVal Coach Lafayette Dublin said. “You always know that can happen. It’s always in your mind. You just hope that it’s not you.”
Wise Coach Rob Garner said he expected an inspired effort after watching his team practice Monday. He abruptly stopped the high-tempo session after an hour and declared his team ready for the game.
“That’s how special it’s been,” Garner said. “Everybody believes, and we’re just having a good time right now. I could just look in their eyes and know that they were ready.”
Wise, which made its only state playoff appearance in 2009, fell to Eleanor Roosevelt, 63-62, on Dec. 18 in their lone meeting this season. . . .
Senior Malachi Alexander scored a game-high 21 points and added eight rebounds as Eleanor Roosevelt dropped C.H. Flowers (13-10) in Greenbelt to advance to their eighth straight region final. The Raiders (24-1) have advanced to the state tournament three straight seasons and five times in the past seven years.
On Tuesday, Eleanor Roosevelt seized control with a 10-2 run to close the first quarter and built the lead from there. Alexander, a 6-foot-7 forward, drained three of his four three-pointers in the opening half and has made nine threes in two playoff victories .
Seniors Tiwian Kendley (12 points) and Lerenzo Foote (10 points) also chipped in offensively as the top-seeded Raiders pulled away.
“It’s certainly something to be proud of and not to be taken for granted,” Coach Brendan O’Connell said of his team’s postseason consistency. “We know we’ll have to be ready for a battle with Wise on Friday.”