Few teams have dogged the Quince Orchard boys basketball team in recent years quite like Gaithersburg, which bounced the Cougars from the 4A West Region semifinals by two points in each of the past two seasons.
But last night at Quince Orchard, the No. 20 Cougars exorcised some demons with a 52-41 victory--their second win over the Trojans in a week--to sweep the regular season series.
"We've been looking forward to these games all year," said Quince Orchard 6-foot-6 senior center Greg Rector, the Cougars' leading scorer. Rector started on the team that fell on a buzzer-beating three-pointer in last year's playoffs. "We were looking for payback. It's been a long time since we beat Gaithersburg twice in one season."
Quince Orchard won its seventh straight to improve to 12-1, 9-0 in Montgomery 4A, and keep the Cougars a game ahead of second-place Magruder (13-1, 8-1). Gaithersburg fell to 9-5, 6-4.
Quince Orchard improved to 12-0 with Rector, who is averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds per game, in the lineup. When Rector missed a game earlier in the season against Largo, the Cougars lost, 62-33.
"He brings a lot of intensity and physical emotion to the floor," Quince Orchard Coach Rick Dorsey said. "Greg is the leader of this team. He knows it, and the kids know it."
Last night he put on another display with a game-high 22 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. He made 16 of 19 free throws, including 6 of 6 in the final two minutes. As a team, Quince Orchard hit 24 of 27 free throws.
Quince Orchard jumped to a 20-8 lead with 5 minutes 3 seconds remaining in the second quarter on a three-pointer by senior guard Jose Navarro. Gaithersburg, which shot 14 of 45 from the field (31 percent), trimmed the deficit to four three times in the fourth quarter. But each time Quince Orchard had an answer.
After junior forward Donnell King put back a Norman Smith miss to bring Gaithersburg within 33-29 with 7:05 remaining, Rector hit two free throws and senior guard Thaddeus Pope drained a three-pointer to put the Cougars up 38-30.
Following a King tip-in of a Luis Lopez miss that brought the Trojans to 38-34 with 4:06 left, Rector took a pass from senior guard Mandel Frazier and threw down a monstrous dunk.
And when junior guard Kevin Riordan converted two free throws to bring Gaithersburg within 40-36 with 2:03 to play, Rector converted both ends of a one-and-one on consecutive trips to put the Cougars ahead, 44-36, with 1:32 remaining.