The Friendly boys' basketball team experienced life without big men Hillary Haley and Augustus Gilchrist on Monday night in a Nike Pro City Summer League game at Gwynn Park. While the result was not pretty -- Friendly lost to Lackey, 52-38 -- Friendly viewed the game as a positive learning experience.
"Guys had to step up and learn their roles as they played," Friendly summer league assistant coach Craig Brooks said. "We still need to work on our help-side [defense], keep on our intensity, keep our heads in the game. No matter what, if there is time on the clock, there is still basketball to be played. People have to step up."
Fortunately for the Patriots, they should have the services of both Haley and Gilchrist this winter. Haley, a 6-foot-6 senior, missed Monday's game to play for the D.C. Blue Devils at the Peach Jam Nike Invitational in North Augusta, S.C. Gilchrist, a 6-foot-8 junior, was attending a camp.
In their absence, Walter Scott and Joe Able played in the front court. Scott, a rising senior, scored eight of his 11 points in the first half and showed he could be a key contributor.
Normally a forward, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Scott took advantage of his playing time in the first half. He followed a missed shot and tipped in the rebound. He also stole a pass near the high post and started a fast break.
Scott said he takes pride in running the court on breaks, a skill he began honing as a freshman. He is trying to lose a few pounds this summer to improve his speed.
"I've got to stay in shape and everything and try to run the court more," Scott said.
Scott's ability to play an up-tempo game fits well with Friendly's style when Haley and Gilchrist are on the floor.
"When they're here, we're a running team," Brooks said. "We're high intensity."
Looking for Chemistry
The Gwynn Park boys' basketball team entered last season seemingly with the personnel to win a state championship and halt its run of difficult playoff losses. But after another heartbreaking defeat in the 3A East Region final against Crossland, Gwynn Park is starting over once again.
Unlike last season, however, the Yellow Jackets have had several key players graduate. Robert Diggs, a 6-foot-8 forward and second team All-Met, averaged 16.5 points last season and will play at George Washington. Center Marcus White will play for Coastal Carolina. Those departures have left holes in the lineup that the Yellow Jackets are trying to fill during the Nike Pro City league.
"We're trying to get team chemistry, a bond," senior Kelvin Jackson said. "Basically, we're trying to get everybody to realize everybody's strong points."
Gwynn Park summer league coach Dale Deberry said that the Yellow Jackets have played well while starting 5-1 in the league. Corey Allmond and Marcus Ashton are two key returning scorers from last year's team, and they have led the team's progress this summer.
At 6 foot 5, Jackson is one of the players being counted on to fill the void inside. He is confident that he and teammate Maurice Stallion will do so capably.
"Our job was to challenge [Diggs and White] in practice last year," Jackson said. "So I don't believe it's going to be a problem of stepping up and rebounding or scoring in the paint."
One-Half Is Enough
Douglass guard Ronnie Barbour was without his backcourt "tag-team" partner Mike Lewis against Huntingtown in a Nike Pro City league game at Gwynn Park on Monday, so he shouldered much of the Eagles' scoring load himself.
Barbour poured in 19 points to help Douglass bounce back from last week's loss to Thomas Stone and defeat the Hurricanes, 51-25.
"It's puts a lot more scoring pressure on me," Barbour said of Lewis's absence. "When he's not here, that takes away a good 15, 20 points, easy. That puts a lot more pressure on me, but I'm trying to handle that right now."
Lewis was an honorable mention All-Met as a junior last season as Douglass lost to Centennial in the Maryland 3A East Region quarterfinals.
Barbour realized that, in Lewis's absence, his teammates look to him for leadership as well as scoring.
"I become the objective now, I think," Barbour said. "I have to be the leader on the floor now. I embraced [the role] all through high school."
"I think he and Mike play great together," Douglass summer league coach Chris Williams added. "And when they're separate or apart, they each take a little more on their shoulders and say, 'Hey, let me shoulder this team.' "