Suitland 45, Gwynn Park 42
When Christian Jackson joined the Suitland boys' basketball summer team this month, he took one look at his new teammates and had an immediate reaction.
"Wow, they're young," Jackson, a transfer from Carroll who is a rising senior, said he thought to himself. "In my head, I was like, 'This is going to be a long year.' "
But if initial results are an indication, the Rams might again be a contender in the Prince George's 4A league, which annually is one of the most competitive in the Washington area. Led by their newest player, a rising sophomore and an incoming freshman, Suitland rallied from a late deficit to beat host Gwynn Park, 45-42, in the Steve Francis/We R One Summer League championship game in Brandywine.
Jackson, a forward who started two seasons at Carroll and averaged a team-high 13.5 points per game last season, finished with 11 points. Guard Darnell Anthony, who started as a freshman last season, had 12 points, including a pair of key three-pointers. Freshman Chris Braswell, a 6-foot-8 center who will begin high school next month, had 11 points.
Braswell is "real calm and poised," Suitland Coach Tyrone Massenburg said. "He's ready for the big-time now."
Gwynn Park, which advanced to the Maryland 3A final last season, was led by senior center Robert Diggs, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Making last night's victory over an experienced and successful team even more impressive, Suitland was without guard Novarro Bowman, a rising junior and returning starter. Bowman is playing in a tournament in Los Angeles with D.C. Assault, which this month won the Amateur Athletic Union 16-and-under national championship.
Suitland trailed 36-29 in the fourth quarter before Anthony made a steal and jumper, then sandwiched three-pointers around a three-pointer by Jackson. Anthony's latter shot, from the right wing, gave the Rams their first lead of the second half, 42-40, with 1 minute 20 seconds remaining, capping the comeback for a team that had no players who possess driver's licenses. Instead, Suitland's players must make sure they have a ride in order to get to school or to work out with their peers.