C.H. Flowers senior guard Franklin Banks had just finished one of the best shooting performances of his high school career. He made seven three-pointers -- the majority of them with a defender's hand inches from his face -- but was left dissatisfied.
All that mattered to Banks were the numbers on the scoreboard -- Oxon Hill 65, C.H. Flowers 62 -- after the Jaguars had lost in overtime to the Clippers on Friday night in a Prince George's 4A League game in Springdale.
"We lost, and that's what counts," said Banks, who scored a game- and season-high 25 points. "How can you be happy when you lose?"
Expectations are changing at C.H. Flowers, a three-year-old school playing in its second year of varsity basketball. Last season, losing was part of the growing process, something that was inevitable when a team with no seniors and no varsity experience is thrust into playing in one of the state's toughest leagues.
"Last year, we would have been happy with a game like this," said C.H. Flowers senior forward Ian McCollough, who scored 12 points against the Clippers. "But not this year, because we feel we can win, and that's what were trying to prove."
For as much as the loss to the two-time defending league champion Clippers (7-2, 6-0) hurt, it is apparent that the county's youngest program is about to make a turn for the better.
C.H. Flowers entered Tuesday's game against Bowie with a record of 6-2 overall and 3-2 in league play after winning just six games all of last season. C.H. Flowers defeated just one team with a winning record last season, but the Jaguars defeated three during a six-game winning streak that included a championship run at the Denbigh Holiday Classic in Newport News, Va., Dec. 26-28.
After opening the tournament with a victory over Landstown (Va.), the Jaguars posted their first win over a ranked team by beating then-undefeated Herndon, 81-66, on Dec. 27 before coming back the next day to defeat Princess Anne (Va.), 74-61, in the tournament's championship game to earn its first ranking in The Washington Post's top 20.
"The past few weeks were a defining moment for this program because we did things we had never done before," C.H. Flowers Coach George McClure said. "This is all new to us. This gives us confidence. We knew we had the potential, but now our kids see that we can play with anybody."
Especially Oxon Hill. Banks missed what would have been a game-winning jump shot from the foul line as time expired in the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime tied at 46. Oxon Hill dominated the first three minutes of the four-minute extra session to take a 59-51 lead with 48 seconds remaining following a free throw by senior guard Chris Pugh.
But C.H. Flowers responded by going on an 11-5 run, during which Banks made two three-pointers and senior guard Marc Duncan added another. Senior guard Brandon Birks capped the spurt with two free throws that pulled the Jaguars to 64-62 with 5.6 seconds remaining.
Oxon Hill senior guard Will Gill made 1 of 2 free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining to push the Clippers' lead to 65-62 before Banks's shot from half court caromed off the top of the backboard as time expired.
"C.H. Flowers is going to be there at the end of the season -- they're a team that can make a run in the playoffs," Oxon Hill Coach Billy Lanier said. "And that says a lot considering last year they were a [junior varsity] team that moved up to play varsity basketball for the first time. They have caught up to the rest of us very quickly."