Montgomery 4A Boys

With Olasewere on the Bench, Springbrook Hangs On

Springbrook's Jamal Olasewere tries to haul in an offensive rebound in front of Blake's Max Hedgepeth. Olasewere fouled out with 1:27 left.
Springbrook's Jamal Olasewere tries to haul in an offensive rebound in front of Blake's Max Hedgepeth. Olasewere fouled out with 1:27 left. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
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By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 10, 2009

The toughest opponent for fifth-ranked Springbrook this season has not been the team on the other side of the court. Rather, the Blue Devils' most pressing concern has been keeping senior forward Jamal Olasewere on the floor.

And while Olasewere was splendid for much of last night's game at Blake in a meeting of undefeated teams, he watched the final few minutes in his warmup shirt from the bench -- and that's when things got interesting for a team that had blown out nearly all of its previous opponents.

The 6-foot-5 Olasewere tallied 25 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out, then watched his teammates desperately cling to a lead before finally holding on for a 61-55 victory in a Montgomery 4A East Division game between the Silver Spring neighbors.

"We have played with him in foul trouble this year," said Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell, whose team's 20-game winning streak is the longest active streak in the Washington area. "That's what we worry about a lot."

Olasewere said it was the first time this season that he has fouled out. He was splendid in the first half, especially during a 9-0 run in which he scored six points as the Blue Devils (11-0, 4-0) took control. Olasewere made a steal and dunked, made two free throws and then scored in the post as Springbrook took a 25-16 lead midway through the second quarter.

And with Olasewere on the floor, the Blue Devils maintained a comfortable lead. When Blake pulled within 39-33 late in the third quarter, Olasewere rebounded his own miss and scored while being intentionally fouled, then made 1 of 2 free throws. Brandon Davis then scored on the ensuing inbounds play as Springbrook quickly rebuilt its margin.

But when Olasewere fouled out after being caught out of defensive position with 1 minute 27 seconds left, things got dicey for the defending Maryland 4A champions. Thereafter, Springbrook made just 3 of 8 free throws and had three turnovers, all in the back court. Blake (11-1, 3-1) pulled within 59-55 on a steal and basket by Carlton Agwu before Springbrook junior Zaid Hearst rebounded his own miss and scored to provide the final margin.

Springbrook 61 Blake 55 Experience 1, Youth 0: Springbrook started the only five seniors on its roster; Blake started two sophomores, two juniors and one senior. A Closer Shave: It was the closest game this season for Springbrook, which had beaten all of its previous opponents by at least 14 points, with a 21-point average margin of victory.

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