It was late in the game and Sidwell Friends’s ninth victory in its past 10 games was secure when Jamal Lewis instructed a teammate where to stand in the middle of the Quakers’ 2-3 zone defense to guard against an out-of-bounds play under the basket.
After giving directions, the 5-foot-11 Lewis — who will play point guard in college but often plays forward or center for Sidwell — walked over and pushed the teammate’s left leg into a better position. In his fourth year starting on the varsity, Lewis is not just a player; at times is a coach on the floor.
“It’s a bit of a learning experience,” Lewis said. “Not everyone has the basketball IQ here. I have to be patient with my teammates.”
While Sidwell might be best known these days for educating Malia and Sasha Obama, its basketball team is moving toward the region’s upper echelon. Junior guard Josh Hart, who has burst onto the scene this season, sat out Monday’s game at Georgetown Day because of a sprained ankle, but Lewis showed he has more than enough to lead the Quakers to victory.
Lewis scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as visiting Sidwell pulled away for a 54-33 victory to remain in first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference as it seeks a third consecutive league title.
Lewis was efficient, making 8 of 10 shots. He also had three assists and blocked two shots.
“Early on, he had to have the ball in his hands but now with Josh and Matt [Hillman], we have other guys who can play so we try to get him away from the ball a little bit,” Sidwell Coach Eric Singletary said. “We try to move him around so the defense doesn’t always know where he is coming from.”
Lewis plans to play point guard at Penn, but his versatility was attractive to college recruiters. Other colleges with more prominent basketball programs tried to recruit him, but Lewis had his mind set on the Ivy League school.
“I knew that whatever [scholarship offers] that would have come after summer, I would have been their second or third choice,” he said. “I was Penn’s first choice from the start.”
While Lewis shined Monday, Georgetown Day standout Anthony Campbell struggled. Entering the game eighth in the Washington area in scoring at 26.3 points per game, Campbell made just 7 of 26 shots and finished with a season-low 15 points.
Still, Campbell had a pair of baskets early in the third quarter as Georgetown Day took a 29-24 lead. But then the Mighty Hoppers (9-7, 1-5) went cold, missing their next 23 shots. The Quakers (12-5, 5-0) scored 28 consecutive points, including 11 from Hillman.