Mark Cunningham stayed up most of Thursday night studying for a biology test, and then spent last night dissecting Centreville's defense in the Metro South summer basketball league championship.
The Potomac High School junior guard buried eight three-pointers, including one at the buzzer from NBA range, to punctuate his 33-point performance in an 83-73 victory at Potomac.
The Panthers also beat Centreville in the junior varsity championship, giving the school its second Metro South title game sweep in three years.
Almost as important as the shots Cunningham made were the ones Centreville junior guard Steve Harvin missed. Harvin scored 39 points but attempted 47 field goals, making just 12. Few of the 47 were open looks. He also went 11 for 12 at the foul line.
Cunningham seemed as though he might be in for a similar off night when he missed his first three shots. He didn't score until seven minutes into the 40-minute game.
"I knew I was going to come out cold because I didn't get any sleep last night," said Cunningham, who went to bed about 3 a.m. and slept three hours. "I was really fatigued at the start, but then my adrenaline started running, and things started kicking in."
An inside basket by senior forward Jernavis Draughn just more than five minutes into the game put the Panthers (11-1) ahead for good. Their largest lead in the first half was 14 points. Centreville (10-2) pulled to four with 8:48 remaining in the game when Harvin buried one of his four three-pointers. After a Potomac timeout, Cunningham sank a fadeaway beauty to run the lead back to seven. The Wildcats were down by seven again with 1:13 left after another Harvin three-pointer and, thanks to two turnovers, they had chances to cut the lead even further. They could not.
Centreville had beaten Potomac, 69-67, during the regular summer league season. Neither Cunningham nor Draughn played that night, however.
"I took myself aside this game and just said to myself that I had to come out and play, or we were going to lose," Cunningham said. "[Draughn] can't do it all by himself."
Draughn certainly did his part, too, by scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Cameron Kirby collected 13 rebounds, 11 on the defensive end. Sophomore Ian Sumers added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Centreville was playing without one of its top scorers--senior Alex Tombras, who was out with a back injury. Tombras scored 16 points against Potomac in the regular season game.
"He usually shoots 15 shots a game, and my coach [Mark Sewell] wants me to shoot 25," said Harvin, who scored 33 points against the Panthers July 21. "Without him, [Sewell] told me this afternoon that I needed to shoot at least 35 shots."
Harvin followed orders, and then some. But Potomac defenders did likewise by sticking with him.
"Our guys play real tough defensively," said Panthers summer league Coach Chip Lozinak, in his 15th season. "If we can keep the defensive pressure up, we like our chances. You know it's going to be uneven on offense, because you're not practicing. But you should never have a night off on defense."
Note: Potomac beat Centreville in the junior varsity championship, 63-50. Chris Berryman scored 17 points for the Panthers (9-2). Eric Sidberry added 16 points and Tony Blackwell 12. Centreville finished 8-3.