In this week’s notebook, we cover Wilson, Bullis, Georgetown Prep, Episcopal, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, Southern and South Lakes
In a battle of the DCIAA undefeateds, Wilson kept their heads: It was the type of game that built hype with every passing result: the longer Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson each remained undefeated in DCIAA play, the more people looked forward to their Feb. 8 meeting.
When it finally arrived, it seemed like every hoops fan in D.C. had packed into the gym at Roosevelt and Wilson thrived on the attention.
“These are seasoned guys that have been here before, I didn’t have to talk to them before about focus,” Wilson Coach Angelo Hernandez said. “I wish every crowd was like that.”
Riding that momentum, the Tigers established themselves as the unquestioned kings of the DCIAA with a dominant 90-59 win. Junior point guard Jay Heath Jr. led Wilson with 30 points, a career high.
“He told me during practice that week ‘you’re going to see a different kid on Thursday,’’” Hernandez said of Heath. “I asked him what that meant and he said ‘you’ll see.’”
The No. 15 Tigers came out strong, finishing the first quarter up 10. They never let up, entering the fourth quarter with the same 21-point lead they would finish with. The victory earned them the league’s regular season title and a top seed in the playoffs.
Wilson’s 35-game regular season was arduous. Hernandez said he scheduled a competitive nonconference schedule early, including games against Rock Creek Christian Academy and Riverdale Baptist, to help his team get ready for moments like Thursday night.
“Those nonleague games were tough games. And all the preseason weight room work, the yoga, the track stuff — everything that people don’t see, that’s what’s helping us this time of year.”
The Tigers ended their regular season with a 56-53 win over Poly from Baltimore Saturday. They will head into the playoffs having won 14 of their last 15 games.
To repeat as Interstate Athletic Conference tournament champs, Bullis will battle the league’s balance: When Bullis Coach Bruce Kelley surveys the IAC this year, he sees parity — more than in years past.
The respective top four seeds — Georgetown Prep, Bullis, Episcopal and St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes — were separated by just two games in the regular-season standings.
So, Kelley expects this week’s conference tournament will be extra competitive. But with experience from last year’s run to the IAC crown, the coach feels his No. 2-seed Bulldogs “definitely have a shot.”
“Those top four teams can all beat each other,” Kelley said. “It’s usually the top two teams in the league, but this year … there’s clearly more play at the top.”
Senior guards Vado Morse (23 points per game) and Lincoln Yeutter (10.9) have created a cohesive dynamic with the Bulldogs this season, Kelley said. They can handle the ball, score or defer to teammates, such as junior Nendah Tarke (14.5).
That flow, plus the Bulldogs winning eight of their last nine games, has earned them a bye in the quarterfinals, an advantage for avoiding fatigue in the three-game, three-day tournament structure, Kelley said.
In the quarterfinals Thursday, No. 3 seed Episcopal will host No. 6 seed Landon and No. 4 seed St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes will welcome No. 5 seed St. Albans. The former winner will play Friday at No. 2 seed Bullis, and the latter Friday at No. 1 seed Georgetown Prep, for berths to Saturday’s final on the higher seed’s court.
Southern thrives with unpredictable offense: Southern Coach Will Maynard concedes he’d be a “fool” to not structure his offense around Curtis Holland III. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound point guard’s magnetic handles and intimate court vision belie the speed and power that have helped him posterize defenders across Anne Arundel County.
But the Bulldogs were too predictable last season. Then-senior guard Jairus Carroll shouldered the scoring load when needed, but otherwise, opponents didn’t need to think too hard to game plan for the Bulldogs.
Not this year. Holland, a High Point commit, is still the focus of the offense. But Southern has options, from Al Horvath to Justin Salisbury to Logan Clingerman to Nieko White to Dashaun Fowler. Maynard said all those seniors are capable of scoring in double-figures, and it makes Southern (16-4) a more formidable team as the postseason looms.
“We feel that every time we’re on the court we have five guys capable of scoring,” Maynard said.
Maynard said the Bulldogs can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Maryland 2A South Region Section II with wins over Patuxent and South River to close the regular season. Southern was a No. 4 seed last season, and fell to No. 5 Gwynn Park in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bulldogs are confident this season will end differently. On offense, the team likes to slow things down and wait for great shots. It’s hardly a difficult task for a team that prides itself on its versatility.
South Lakes’ Cameron Savage returns from injury to win Liberty District player of the year: After he tweaked his knee against Madison in December, South Lakes junior Cameron Savage had a rare chance to sit and watch. The three-year starter at point guard had missed one game in his high school career before the sprain kept him on the bench for two and a half weeks.
“I finally was able to notice our pace of play and how important it is,” Savage said. “I noticed that everything was too slow, so when I came back I’ve been focused on making sure we’re playing fast.”
Savage leads the Seahawks with 15 points per game. South Lakes lost 44-43 to W.T. Woodson in Savage’s first game back from injury before ripping off 10 straight wins. The Seahawks are the top seed in this week’s Liberty District tournament, and on Saturday, Savage was named the district’s player of the year.
— Andrew Duggan (@CoachDuggan) February 10, 2018
The Seahawks’ win streak was snapped in their regular season finale in a 33-32 loss at Langley on Friday. South Lakes could see the Saxons again in the district tournament.
“It’s good that we got that loss out of the way and realize that we can be beaten in conference,” Savage said. “We got a chip back on our shoulders.”