To his left ran 6-foot-5 Micah Till, and on his right barrelled 6-5 post power Trevor Brown. The trio dwarfed the Eleanor Roosevelt defender, who seemed to shrink as Sanders sent the ball to Brown, who finished easily to build upon an already substantial Pumas lead.
No. 11 Wise’s sizable arsenal of sizable options helped it dismantle the defending Maryland 4A state champion, 65-49, lengthening the shadow it is casting over Prince George’s County 4A competition.
“We’ve got the size, and that’s something we had to get used to. We’re doing a better job using it as a team,” Wise Coach Rob Garner said. “But for us as a team, we really haven’t done anything yet . . . at the end of the day, [Roosevelt] is the defending state champs. We know to get where we need to be, we have to go through them no matter what.”
On Monday, the Pumas (5-2, 5-0) went over, around and through the visiting Raiders (6-2, 4-2). Brimming with uncommonly mobile big men and similarly strong guards, Wise used extra height and seemingly endless wingspans to infiltrate the Raiders’ passing lanes and alter inside shots. In addition to pushing Raiders away from the hoop to prevent easy layups, Till displayed quickness and active hands, coming up with steal after steal as the Pumas pressed.
In the back court, Sanders, Justice Sneed and the rest of Wise’s guards accomplished something no team has been able to this season: shut down Raiders scoring sensation Andre Fox, who clawed for seven points, eight fewer than his previous low in a season in which he boasts a 38-point game.
“We knew he was one of their best players, and overall he could do a lot,” Sneed said. “So we face-guarded him, tried to keep the ball out of his hands.”
The Pumas found their shots offensively, as Sneed (12 points) shot over the Raiders’ half-court defense while big men Till (18 points), Devin Moore (14 points), and Brown (six points) muscled their way to easy baskets inside and in transition. Sanders (13) and Till turned in highlight-reel fast-break dunks — by-products of the turnovers and off-balance shots forced by Pumas defenders all evening.
“It helps us so much that [Brown, Moore, and Till] are faster and more athletic than most of the other big men in 4A,” Sanders said. “They’ve got long arms, so they can help our defense out, but they can also move.”