Boys’ basketball: Gaithersburg rolls past Clarksburg behind Geron Braithwaite

When Gaithersburg starting point guard Aaron King went down with a leg injury late in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against Clarksburg, it wasn’t a Trojans trainer or assistant coach or manager who brought him water. It was the senior guard Geron Braithwaite, who figured he was doing everything in his power to win the first league game of the season, so why break precedent?

Braithwaite ran quickly to the bench, fetched an ice-cold bottled water, and ran back onto the floor as everyone looked on.

“He’s a key part of this team,” Braithwaite said. “[I wanted to see] if he was all right.”

Braithwaite proved he was a key part of the team Friday, too. The lanky 6-foot-2 guard scored 25 points and Anthony Tarke added 15 as Gaithersburg cruised to an 83-59 win over Clarksburg in an early season Montgomery County 4A West showdown in Gaithersburg.

The Trojans (5-0, 1-0 Montgomery 4A West) entered the night averaging 84.2 points per game, having not been challenged through the first two weeks. That looked as if it would continue Friday night, as the Trojans quickly took a 13-2 lead, holding Clarksburg (3-2, 0-1) without a field goal for the first five minutes of the first quarter.

Gaithersburg guard Nyrion Turner (14) drives to the basket over Clarksburg guard Malik Smith (3) during first half action. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

But behind gritty performances from guards D.J. Singleton (12 points) and Caleb Carter (16 points), the Coyotes — who had grinded out an eight-point win over Richard Montgomery Wednesday — crawled back into the game, taking a 17-16 lead after a Singleton three-pointer early in the second quarter.

Gaithersburg clung to a 39-34 lead at halftime, and Braithwaite took over in the third quarter. He scored 12 points in the frame, using an array of spin moves in the lane and fast break opportunities to key an 8-0 run and push the score to 60-50 entering the fourth quarter. The Trojans opened the final quarter with a 7-0 run, which included a three-pointer from Tarke.

Tarke said there is resemblance in the body language and games between Braithwaite and himself, and that was evident Friday. Both players had a penchant for constantly running the floor and attacking the rim.

“It’s hand and hand with us. We have the same goal, same focus, for what we want to do on the court,” Tarke said.

The goal for this team at the beginning of the season, Tarke said, was to average about 80 points per game and hold opponents to 60 — which has happened in all but one game this season (Poolesville scored 67 points in the season opener). Gaithersburg has scorers, as King finished with 13 and Dion Etheridge added 17, and the style comes from the team’s devotion to the school’s track this summer, according to Braithwaite.

“We trained all offseason. Ran the track, in the weight room, so we’re in great shape. . . just out there running laps around the track. Hot, in the sun, running, pushing each other,” Braithwaite said. “You get what you put in.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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