Moments before his team’s matchup with undefeated Potomac School on Saturday afternoon, Bullis Coach Bruce Kelley yelled to his squad, “you gotta bounce back.”
The seventh-ranked Bulldogs earned a win over No. 9 O’Connell last weekend at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., but also suffered losses to Northland (OH) and Archbishop Moeller (OH).
At Saturday’s inaugural IAC/MAC Challenge, the Bulldogs looked comfortable and at ease back home in the Washington area. With a high pressure 1-2-2 press, Bullis routed the Panthers, 61-41, at St. Stephens/St. Agnes to hand Potomac School its first loss on the season.
“It doesn’t come naturally man, that’s sort of what we preach,” Kelley said of the defensive pressure. “We were concerned about our shooting with the snow day, but I knew we would play hard.”
Even when the Panthers (8-1) guards managed to weave their way through the press, center Andre Walker was waiting for them inside. With a five-inch height advantage on the Potomac School’s post players, the 6-foot-10 Walker was an imposing force in the paint, and tallied eight blocks — six in the first half.
“Eight blocks! I didn’t know it was that many,” Walker said when he was informed of his stat line. “My timing is just really good from starting at a young age.You have to have a feel for [blocking].”
The Bulldogs guards also got in on the block party as the team posted 13 total on the afternoon, while senior guard Jamaal Greenwood was his usual aggressive self at the top of the press, forcing guards into corners and creating turnovers.
“I’d been here all day and I saw that two IAC teams lost,” Greenwood said. “I wanted us to get off to an early start through defense. I knew they had a lot of scorers and they were undefeated, but we wanted to shut them down early to set the tone for the game.”
The Panthers looked as if they were going to shoot their way back into Saturday’s game after Logan Samuels (16 points) knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to 22-12. But with a 14-point lead at the half Bullis, opened the third on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“The fact that we were back home was a difference for us today,” Greenwood said. “When we were playing in South Carolina, a lot of our parents didn’t travel. Now that we’re back home, we wanted to show everybody in the DMV we still have it.”
In other Challenge action, St. Andrew’s topped Landon in overtime, 76-71, and St. James dropped Episcopal, 57-36. Along with Bullis, St. Albans and host St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes also picked up victories for the IAC, which won the challenge, 3-2.