The clock said 0.2 of a second remained in Saturday’s Maryland 4A final, but for Eleanor Roosevelt and its fans, the celebration had already begun. When the Raiders flipped the ball inbounds to finish a 61-56 victory over Magruder, senior Emmanuel Matey was busy shouting to the baby blue-clad fans behind his team’s bench.
Starting five seniors in its fourth straight state tournament appearance, Eleanor Roosevelt finally earned the chance to celebrate at Comcast Center. A transfer who played at McNamara and North County last season, Matey wasn’t around for any of those painful endings, but he certainly did his part to avoid a similar fate this time.
In his only season at the Greenbelt school, Matey set school records for assists in a single game and for a season in leading the Raiders to their first state title since 2002. With his dynamic play on both ends of the floor, the 6-foot point guard also emerged as a legitimate Division I prospect. He landed his first scholarship offer from Morgan State on Feb. 28, and he also has interest from Towson and Cornell.
“I’m just blessed the way the season worked out,” Matey said. “I just have to thank my teammates for making my job a lot easier.”
Matey never scored more than 10 points in a game this season and only averaged 4.5 points for the year, but he boosted his recruiting stock anyway, impacting Eleanor Roosevelt as much as any player on the floor. He said he had mostly Division III interest before beginning his senior year.
Often, Matey checked the opponent’s best guard, using his quickness and persistence to frustrate. He showed an ability to get to the basket when he wanted to, but he often attacked the defense with the goal of setting up his teammates. He averaged seven assists per game during the regular season with two games of 15 assists, which smashed the previous team record of 12.
When Matey reached the mark for the second time in an 87-60 playoff win over Parkdale on Feb. 28, Morgan State Coach Todd Bozeman was in attendance and extended the scholarship offer afterward. Senior forward Malachi Alexander (Holy Cross) is the only Raider currently signed to play at the next level.
“He made everything work.” Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell said of Matey. “We had a lot of scorers around him, and he was perfect. He got them the ball. He broke the pressure. He fed those guys. There was a big difference in our team when he wasn’t out there.”
In his first appearance on the state’s largest stage, Matey struggled at times in Thursday’s 61-58 semifinal victory over North Point. He finished with eight turnovers to go along with six points and four assists, playing opposite senior Marquis Wright, a Loyola (Md.) recruit.
Matey was better in Saturday’s final, matching up with senior J.J. Epps, Montgomery County’s top point guard. He had six points, five assists and four steals with only three turnovers.
“Walking in and seeing all those fans, I was nervous, at first,” Matey said of his first state tournament experience. “But once I put my jersey on and ran on the court, all those nerves went away, and it was just another basketball game.”
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Check out a season’s worth of top plays with a nice collection of dunks, buzzer beaters and big-time performances and then vote for your favorite here.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4
The number of consecutive years that Riverdale Baptist had finished atop The Post’s final girls’ basketball rankings before this year. WCAC champ St. John’s took the top spot this time with the Crusaders ranked sixth. Here’s the full Top 20 on both sides.
— O’Connell backed up its WCAC title by taking the championship at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational tournament to earn the top spot in the final boys’ basketball rankings. The Knights (30-7) close at No. 1 for the first time in school history, beating out Montrose Christian, Gonzaga and Eleanor Roosevelt.
— Brandon Parker has the latest on O’Connell’s Junior Etou, whose age and eligibility and remain divisive issues for both the WCAC and FIBA.
— Several of the area’s outdoor events were rained out last night, but a few played on. In girls’ lacrosse, Georgetown Visitation, last season’s No. 2 squad, opened the season with a 16-3 win over Bishop Ireton. Chris Slaten had a goal and an assist as Fairfax dropped Annandale, 2-1, in boys’ soccer to remain unbeaten at 3-0. The Chantilly girls’ soccer team, which finished last season ranked No. 8, beat Mount Vernon, 10-0, and has now outscored its opponents 16-0 in two victories.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:
Boys’ Lacrosse: Gonzaga at Boys’ Latin, 4 p.m.
The Eagles, who won the WCAC last season and finished atop The Post’s rankings, travel to Baltimore to meet MIAA power Boys’ Latin. The Lakers are ranked No. 1 in the latest Inside Lacrosse national high school poll.