Edward Basden's dunk with 12 seconds left in last night's game between No. 4 Oxon Hill and No. 9 Eleanor Roosevelt did not affect the outcome of the matchup of the top two teams Prince George's 4A league. It merely provided the exclamation point to the Raiders' 66-58 home victory and set off a celebration among the Roosevelt players and fans.
With the win, Roosevelt (12-3, 8-1) extended its winning streak to 10 games and solidified its hold on first place in the league. Oxon Hill (12-3, 7-2), the two-time defending county champion, had won the previous five meetings between the teams, including last season's 4A South Region final.
"Oh, this was big," said Roosevelt junior Delonte West, who scored 22 points. "We felt like we finally got the monkey off our back and got a win against Oxon Hill. But tomorrow we've got to go back to practice and go back to work."
Roosevelt was a much different team when it faced Oxon Hill on Dec. 17, a game that the Clippers won, 74-70.
During the first five games of the season, the Raiders, at various times, played without their three leading scorers--senior Delonte Holland, Basden, and West--for a variety of reasons. The result was inconsistent play and three losses in the first five games. But the Raiders haven't lost since that first Oxon Hill game.
"We're finally starting to get it," West said. "We're playing as a team."
Last night, the Raiders started slowly and trailed Oxon Hill, 13-2, with 3 minutes 47 seconds left in the first quarter. In that span, Roosevelt had no field goals, only five field goal attempts and six turnovers.
"I was overanxious," said the Rhode Island-bound Holland, who scored 18 points. "I couldn't get any sleep last night. I'm a senior, so this was one of the last chances I'd have at them."
West gave the Raiders a lift when he entered the game with 4:05 left in the first quarter (the 6-foot-3 guard usually starts, but sat at the start of the game because he broke what Coach Glenn Farello called a minor team rule). West scored nine first-quarter points.
West "brings so much energy and intensity to the game," Farello said. "He never lets up and he gave us that lift. He's like a pit bull, just waiting to be unleashed."
Oxon Hill, which was led by All-Met senior Michael Sweetney's 26 points and 15 rebounds, held a 35-33 halftime lead. But Roosevelt increased its half-court defensive pressure, forcing five turnovers in the first five minutes of the half, and opened up a 45-41 lead.
Dami Oloruntoba, a 6-4 senior who was charged with guarding the 6-9 Sweetney, typified the Raiders' second-half effort. He batted away passes intended for Sweetney, grabbed rebounds and dived on the floor.
"They played like they're the champions, and we did not," said Oxon Hill Coach Billy Lanier, whose team has played in the past two Maryland 4A finals. "They played better basketball tonight and they deserved to win."
Note: With 3:51 left, the game was stopped because of wet spots on the floor in front of Oxon Hill's bench. Two Oxon Hill players slipped--and were called for traveling--during the fourth quarter, and the game was delayed for 10 minutes while a mop was found.