Several Montgomery County coaches were on-hand last night in Wheaton to get their first look at what many consider to be two of the county's premier teams. They were treated to a tight game, which featured physical play and a lot of whistles.
Seventh-ranked Gaithersburg made 6 of 7 free throws in the final minute after reserve guard Wes Marshall's three-pointer with 1 minute 5 seconds remaining erased No. 13 Wheaton's only lead of the game, and the Trojans overcame 29 points from Knights senior guard Donte Alexander to win, 64-62.
Wheaton (2-1) came back from a 15-point first-half deficit to take its first lead, 57-55, after Alexander made an acrobatic transition layup with 2:31 to play. After the teams exchanged misses, Marshall buried a three-pointer, his only basket of the game, to make it 58-57.
"I was kind of nervous, but it looked good so I let it go," said Marshall, who was 0 for 9 from the field and 0 for 5 from three-point range in Gaithersburg's season-opening win Tuesday night.
Jesse Francis, Kevin Riordan and Donnell King combined to shoot 6 for 6 from the line in the final 32 seconds to give Gaithersburg a 64-59 lead with 11 seconds remaining. Wheaton's Alexander hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
Gaithersburg opened a 28-13 lead, thanks to 7-of-7 shooting by King and foul trouble on 6-foot-5, 240-pound Wheaton center Marvin Moss. Moss, who finished with 15 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks, picked up two fouls in the opening 21 seconds.
"They called it close for both teams," Wheaton Coach Scott Spear said. "It really hurt us when my center, the dominant player on the court, gets two fouls in 21 seconds when he hardly breathes on anyone. But we didn't adjust."
In all, 49 fouls were called--28 in the first half.
"It was poor officiating," King said. "The refs were making ridiculous calls."
Gaithersburg Coach Paul Foringer said: "It was a big game. Both teams came out pumped and every time someone was touched it was a foul. The officiating made it difficult for both teams to play the way they could play."
CAPTION: Wheaton's Jerry White (23) and Miguel Fragueiro, left, scramble for ball with Gaithersburg's Donnell King, who stretches over teammate Anthony Lauire.