The Crossland boys' basketball team put together an impressive weekend at the highly competitive And 1 High School Basketball Championship's East Region II tournament at the Run 'n' Shoot Athletic Center in District Heights.
The Cavaliers went 3-1 with victories over Bowie and private school power Archbishop Spalding on Saturday and a 51-48 triumph over the Bullets, a team made up of players from Friendly, on Sunday.
"We knew the competition would be tough, but we've been doing our workouts really hard," said Crossland Coach Sam Harris, whose team was 11-13 last winter. "We've been lifting and doing a lot of speed drills and getting more confident in our play."
The Cavaliers sweated out a 65-63 victory over Bowie in overtime in the first round, then upset a Spalding squad that has three Division I prospects, 82-75, behind senior forwards Darnel Reaves (27 points) and Osiris Powell (24 points). Crossland trailed Spalding by two at the half and then fell behind 59-44 in the third quarter.
Crossland answered with a dizzying 20-4 burst -- sparked by eight points each from Powell and Reaves -- and took the lead on senior William Foster's putback with 6 minutes 18 seconds left in the game. It did not trail again.
"Our coach told us to keep our heads in it, and we would come back," Powell said. "We just played as a team, played hard. Our coaches ran some good plays, and that's how we won."
Spalding pulled within 72-71 with 2:00 remaining, but Powell, who missed much of last year with an ankle injury, scored consecutive buckets, the second off a steal, to keep Spalding at bay.
Although Crossland has three returning starters -- 6-foot-1 senior David Tairu, 6-4 Reaves and 6-3 Powell -- the Cavaliers are young. They will rely on sophomore Andre Payne to run the team from the point guard slot. But Saturday against Spalding, which finished 12th in The Post's rankings last winter, the Cavaliers looked confident.
"We knew we could play with them," Harris said. "Certainly they have a big name, and we respect their name, but I tell my kids all the time that the game is played on the court. It's how hard you play. And I guess they're starting to understand that because we're playing real team ball right now, and I'm real proud of them."
Praise for Point Guard
Riverdale Baptist's freshman transfer, Michael Beasley, stole the show in the championship game of this weekend's And 1 High School Basketball Championship's East Region II tournament. But the Crusaders probably would not have been able to capture the prestigious title without the steady play of point guard Kenny Burkes.
In Riverdale's 63-54 victory over Paul VI Catholic in the tournament final, the 5-5, 145-pound senior scored six points, handed out eight assists and hounded the Panthers' point guards.
"Kenny did an excellent job all weekend with his floor generalship and handling the basketball for us," said Riverdale Baptist Coach Louis Wilson. "He knows the plays. He knows how to make great entry passes. He's small, but he plays very good defense against some of the top point guards. So we think he's one of the top point guards coming back this year."
Burkes has played on Riverdale's varsity since he was a sophomore and last year started half of the Crusaders' games. He displayed an immediate chemistry with Beasley, putting the ball in the talented freshman's hands in the right spots.
"We played pretty tough," Burkes said. "At the beginning it was a little shaky because we hadn't played together in a while. I had just come back from New York, and everybody had separate camps and stuff. But when we got back together, after about the first game, everything started to jell together."
Riverdale also got a standout performance from 6-4 junior Edwin Bailey, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"He hurt us a whole lot," said Paul VI Coach Levi Franklin. "He's tough."