In this week’s boys’ basketball notebook, we cover River Hill, Georgetown Prep and Freedom-South Riding.
River Hill learns from blowout loss, has eyes on postseason: River Hill Coach Matt Graves isn’t afraid to talk about the Potomac game. He’ll own it. The Hawks walked into the Paint Branch Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 with seven straight wins to start the season but left with a 69-38 loss.
The Wolverines, last year’s Maryland 3A runners-up, couldn’t seem to miss from the field. River Hill gambled for steals and failed. It was a perfect storm that ended in disaster for a Hawks team that had experienced little disappointment.
“We were wobbling,” Graves said. “And then the wheels fell off.”
Looking back, Graves is grateful for the defeat. He called it a wake-up call for a team that returns nine starters and intends to play deep into the postseason. River Hill has since picked up easy wins over Oakland Mills and Glenelg, having plugged the holes revealed from its lone loss.
“Sometimes you need a bad loss to get back on track,” Graves said.
River Hill (9-1) runs a Princeton-style offense, with lots of backdoor passes and three-point shots. It has opened up scoring opportunities for 5-foot-7 guard Jacob Krause, who scored a game-high 21 points in the Hawks’ 68-58 win over Oakland Mills on Wednesday.
He teams in the backcourt with Brendan McKenna, whom Graves described as the “glue that holds us together.” “He’s the coach on the floor, but he does it quietly,” Graves said.
The Hawks won the Howard County regular season title last season before falling to Wilde Lake in a second-round upset. The team believes this season can be different, in part because of lessons learned from a loss it won’t soon forget.
Georgetown Prep’s Will Mulquin emerges as ‘spark plug’ off the bench: Georgetown Prep Coach Ryan Eskow isn’t sure Will Mulquin has ever jumped as high as he did Wednesday against Wilson. The 6-4 guard trailed a teammate’s three-point attempt and, as it clanged off the rim, Mulquin split two defenders to dunk the putback.
With his most emphatic play in a nine-point performance off the bench, Mulquin again proved himself a reliable burst of energy in the 70-68 win.
“I really can’t put into words how proud I am of Will Mulquin, because the kid does every single thing that I ask. That kid would run through a wall,” Eskow said. “He brings great shooting, and he’s a spark plug.”
Early this season, Eskow talked to Mulquin about being a senior reserve. With Division I-bound starters in guard Jared Bynum, Mezie Offurum and Ike Nweke, Eskow felt Mulquin could be most valuable in that role. Since then, Mulquin led No. 9 Georgetown Prep with 16 points against Byrnes (S.C.) in a South Carolina tournament during the holidays. And Mulquin had 10 points, including two three-pointers, in an early December win over Westtown (Pa.), which touts some of the country’s premier talent.
With No. 9 Georgetown Prep coming off a loss to Maret on Saturday and facing No. 14 Bullis and No. 8 Episcopal in the next two weeks — likely with implications in the Interstate Athletic Conference standings — Eskow is hoping Mulquin’s contributions continue.
Freedom-South Riding’s record-breaker, Zyan Collins, does it all: Freedom-South Riding opened in 2005. There have been nine classes that spent a full four years at the school, but it has taken Zyan Collins three and a half seasons to set himself apart.
Eleven games into his senior season, the 6-3 guard has the most points, rebounds, assists and free throws in the program’s short history. On Wednesday against Potomac Falls, Collins scored his 1,043rd point.
“When I found out during the game I was like ‘Oh, snap, that’s pretty cool,’ ” Collins said. “But in the heat of the moment, I was more focused on the game.”
Friday night, Freedom-South Riding beat neighborhood rival Champe, 73-54, as Collins scored a season-low five points against a box-and-one defense from the Knights. Collins has seen increased attention from defenses as the Eagles jumped from Class 4 to 5 this season, but along with 6-6 senior Hunter Oakford and 6-4 sophomore Lance Johnson, Freedom-South Riding has length to handle the boost in competition.
“Champe put their football guys on me — face-guarding and holding me. It was a tough game,” Collins said. “But I liked it. It showed what my teammates can do. They can pick up the slack.”
Collins’s most important milestone is the school-record 19 wins his team set last season. In a bigger division, the Eagles (9-2) are within striking distance of that record with 10 regular season games remaining.