The Washington Post

Riverdale Baptist hangs tough without three starters


Riverdale Baptist's Nigel Johnson (23), shown earlier this season, has missed five straight games because of academic issues. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Seniors Nigel Johnson, Khary Doby and Carlton Carter each missed their fifth straight game because of academic issues, a stretch during which the Crusaders have gone 3-2. Coach Louis Wilson said all three players will be eligible to return for Monday’s game at National Christian.

“They received the message,” Wilson said. “They know they have to do better.”

Johnson, a George Washington commit who earned second-team All-Met honors at Broad Run last year, leads Riverdale Baptist in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Doby, a 6-foot-6 forward, is the only other Crusader averaging in double figures. He is committed to North Carolina A&T.

Riverdale Baptist (20-8) showcased its depth on Thursday night with five players cracking double figures to hang close against Theodore Roosevelt. (Granted, the Rough Riders were also down two starters.)

Junior Chinanu Onuaku continued his strong recent run in the post with 11 points and 14 rebounds, his fifth straight double-double.

In recent months, Onuaku has emerged as the team’s most heralded recruit, and the 6-foot-10 center flashed some serious potential on Thursday. In addition to anchoring the paint, he swished a pair of turnaround jumpers and also nailed his second three-pointer of the season in the final minute.

Onuaku began his high school career at DuVal, and his role has increased since joining the Crusaders last year. He has a strong basketball pedigree as his brother, Arinze, earned second-team All-Met honors at Episcopal in 2005 and went on to play at Syracuse.

After Thursday’s game, Wilson listed Seton Hall, Cincinnati, DePaul, Xavier and Connecticut among the schools that have come through with offers so far.

“He’s getting in there and battling every game,” Wilson said of Onuaku. “He’s just trying to get all the rebounds and block shots. He’s very emotional. He just works hard. Hopefully, he’ll just keep it going and when those guys get back on Monday, we’ll keep rolling from there.”

Related: Warren sparks Theodore Roosevelt past Riverdale Baptist

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