Paul VI boys’ basketball had quite the week. On Monday, the team learned that senior combo guard Anthony Harris, a Virginia Tech commit, was lost for the season with an ACL injury. He’s the second major player the Panthers have lost this season, following five-star junior Jeremy Roach, who also tore his ACL.
“The first thing it does is deflate,” Coach Glenn Farello said of those injuries. “It’s very deflating for the team because this is a brotherhood and these guys love each other.”
But on Tuesday night, Paul VI perked up at the right time, pulling off the season’s first great comeback. Trailing O’Connell by 22 points with four minutes left in the third quarter, the Panthers made a furious rally and picked up a 56-53 victory on the road.
Farello pulled his starters midway through the third after O’Connell built a big lead. He hoped that it would help his team recalibrate. It did.
“When they re-entered they had a chip on their shoulder,” he said.
At one point, the Panthers got 15 straight stops. They built momentum, backed by a sizable away crowd. They cut the deficit to three points with 2:30 left. Sophomore Trevor Keels hit a floater to make it a one-point game, senior Josh Oduro put them up a point with 30 seconds left and then freshman Dug McDaniel made a steal to seal the win.
It makes nine straight victories for Paul VI over O’Connell, their Washington Cathlolic Athletic Conference rivals, dating back to 2015.
“I was just really proud of the fight,” Farello said. “We’ll be fighters this year.”
That fighting attitude will stem from the bench, where Farrello said Roach and Harris will be contributing as assistant coaches. He said that both players, on the days of their diagnoses, joined the team at a scrimmage or practice.
“They’re both just so valuable in helping the younger guys,” Farello said. “They’re just wired the right way.”
- Michael Errigo
South Lakes' Cameron Savage goes viral after circus layup
Right after jumping over 6-foot-1 Patriot guard Yusef Salih, clutching the ball midair, finishing a layup and landing on his feet, South Lakes guard Cameron Savage didn’t realize what kind of feat he had pulled off.
Once Savage returned to the locker room after his 32-point performance in a loss Nov. 29, his teammates showed him the replay. Savage couldn’t believe how high he jumped.
Soon, SportsCenter, Bleacher Report and MaxPreps tweeted the highlight. Savage was treated like a celebrity at the Reston school, and morning announcements at South Lakes displayed the clip.
“My phone was blowing up,” said Savage, the Seahawks' leading scorer. “I got [a ton of] Twitter followers in like two days. Old buddies of mine in [Amateur Athletic Union] were hitting me up. My school went crazy.”
Throughout South Lakes' game against Patriot, Savage noticed Pioneers defenders were slow to offer help defense around the basket. Savage jumped to avoid the defender and thought Salih had slipped until he watched the replay.
Savage said his friends joke he has rusty knees, but the senior argued with them after his play that went viral.
“When I saw it on SportsCenter,” Savage said, “I was like, ‘This is pretty crazy.’ ”
- Kyle Melnick
Churchill upsets B-CC in season opener
The opening minutes of Churchill’s 2018 season could not have gone much worse. The Bulldogs gave up 10 unanswered points in the opening minutes of their game against Bethesda-Chevy Chase, including an emphatic, will-killing dunk by Barons guard Elijah Wood. Considering the Barons are regarded as one of the best teams in Montgomery County, it all seemed bleak Friday.
But Coach Dave Blumenthal called a timeout to deliver a message, which woke up the players and ignited a spark in an eventual 56-54 win.
“He was like ‘You guys have been punched in the mouth,’ ” said Churchill guard John Mbeng, who led the team with 14 points. “And that’s how we got our mentality back.”
Following the timeout, the Bulldogs went on a 16-2 run, including 14 unanswered points, highlighted by their stingy defense and hustle plays.
“We said we ought to turn up the intensity on defense and when we started to do that, that was the switch,” forward David Orta said. “We started getting some steals, making them uncomfortable. I think that really changed the script for us there.”
Churchill extended the lead in the third quarter and forward Ike Onu-Chiedo’s shot with 2.4 seconds left was the difference-maker. After Woods missed a desperation heave from midcourt, the Bulldogs began their celebration on B-CC’s floor.
“We needed every 50-50 play,” Blumenthal said. “That’s just a mentality that we tried to instill in these guys because height and athleticism help, but heart and will carry when things matter most. They left everything on the floor.”
- David J. Kim
Eleanor Roosevelt passes first national test
Cameron Brown was primarily a shooter when the guard first started for Eleanor Roosevelt as a sophomore. Two years later, Brown has become one of Maryland’s most versatile players, with the ability to score from the perimeter or with his back to the basket.
On Saturday during Hoophall West in Arizona, Brown recorded 33 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raiders to a 77-66 win over Corona Del Sol, one of Arizona’s top teams. Brown and senior guard Isaiah Gross headline a squad with Maryland 4A championship aspirations.
“They’re the two best players in Maryland 4A,” Coach Brendan O’Connell said.
Eleanor Roosevelt (2-0) has come up short in the playoffs both years Brown and Gross have started. The Raiders lost to Wise in 2016 and fell to Bladensburg by one-point in last year’s Maryland 4A quarterfinals.
In bolstering an already-experienced roster, Eleanor Roosevelt added Rock Creek Christian transfer Kyle Rose this season.
Eleanor Roosevelt visited Grand Canyon National Park on Sunday — team bonding O’Connell hopes pays off down the stretch. The Raiders open Prince George’s County play at DuVal on Tuesday before facing DeMatha, which beat Eleanor Roosevelt by 37 points last season.
“We’re lucky in that our best players are always our hardest workers and most unselfish guys,” O’Connell said. “The rest of the team follows after them.”