Springbrook 68, Whitman 58
There are seven players on Springbrook's boys' basketball team as tall as or taller than 6-foot-3 junior Folarin Campbell, but the Blue Devils' point guard still answers to the nickname "Shaq."
Considering the torrid rate at which Campbell has been scoring lately, the moniker -- earned around age 8 when he was the tallest player on his youth league team -- still applies.
Last night, despite a box-and-one defense designed to stop him, Campbell scored a game-high 33 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 68-58 home victory over previously unbeaten No. 19 Whitman in a Montgomery County 4A/3A East division game. It was the fourth consecutive game that Campbell has scored more than 30 points.
"Star players step up at big times, and that's what I'm trying to do," said Campbell, who has averaged 34 points the last four games. "I'm trying to work myself into a star player."
Campbell, who made three three-pointers and 10 of 14 free throw attempts, scored nine points during a 15-2 run over the final 3 minutes 44 seconds as Springbrook (4-3, 4-0) erased a three-point deficit. His play, and the contribution of junior forward Louis Brookins (24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks), helped the Blue Devils rebound from a frustrating Mount Vernon Christmas Invitational.
Without seniors T.J. Thompson and Billy Chiles, who were at a soccer tournament, Springbrook lost three games by a combined 11 points in last week's tournament.
"Those losses definitely hurt, but those are in the past," Brookins said. "Now we've got our heads on straight, and it's game time."
Whitman (7-1, 2-1) staked claim to a 56-53 lead with 4:19 to play on a jumper by 6-10 senior center Jerome Habel (14 points, 14 rebounds, 13 blocks). Sixteen seconds later, however, senior point guard Dan Engelstad (10 points, 10 assists) fouled out.
Without their primary playmaker, the Vikings committed four turnovers and scored two points -- both free throws -- the rest of the way.
"That's obviously a weakness we have to address -- we don't handle the ball that well on the perimeter other than Danny," said Coach Orlando Larracuente, who has the Vikings off to their best start in a decade. "We need to be able to create when the pressure is high, and at this point we don't have that."
In the first half, Whitman consistently broke Springbrook's full-court press and led 39-37 at the break. Springbrook came out in a man-to-man defense in the second half, and held the Vikings to seven field goals and 19 points.
"We like to press," first-year Springbrook coach Keith Adams said. "But when the money's on the line, we go man."