Springarn and De Matha did little to hinder their bids for the No. 1 spot in schoolboy basketball as both Washington D.C.-area clubs won impressively tonight at the Portland Civic Center.
Springarn unleashed its Jones boys to frustrate Cheverus, 90-43, in the first game of the Cheverus Classic. Adrian Branch and Bob Perry lifted De Matha past defending Maine champion South Portland, 80-58, in the nightcap before 5,229 fans.
The opener marked the debut of ballyhooed 6-10 center Earl Jones for the Green Wave but it was another Jones -- John -- who used his smooth-as-silk moves under the basket to score 19 points and walk away with the MVP balloting.
Earl Jones scored 14 points in an impressive nonstarting debut, having had only one day of practice with his club due to a courtroom battle over academic eligibility. A D.C. judge Saturday granted Jones a five-day stay of an injunction and it allowed him to suit up for the game, although the future status of the transfer from Mount Hope, W.Va., remains uncertain.
This was a team victory for the Green Wave of Coach John Woods. A combination of full-court presses forced Cheverus into 21 turnovers in the first half for a resounding and insurmountable 50-18 lead.
"We had great execution and forced the play," said Woods, who feels Earl Jones is just getting used to his teammates. As for Jones: "I felt no great pressure in my debut and felt right at home in the running game our team plays."
De Matha had a much tougher time of it. South Portland was stiff competition, and not as intimidated as Cheverus.
The Stags were solid but not flashy making few mistakes and using a methodical offense. They took the percentage shot when they were unable to fast break.
Branch, MVP of the nightcap, scored 22 points, six more than teammate Ferry who launched jumpers from all over the court.
Coach Morgan wootten's team jumped to a 48-27 halftime lead and never allowed south Portland to get closer than 16. He said his club should be much smoother in the future and added, "I'm proud of my kids. They played a tough team tonight and played with a lot of character."