Fresh off his team’s first loss in two months and with the Prince George’s County boys’ basketball championship up for grabs, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Naji Marshall had to suppress much of his eagerness entering Wednesday’s matchup
The Raiders’ opponent, No. 7 Gwynn Park, has built a reputation for limiting the other team’s top player, a notion that Marshall was well aware of as he went scoreless for the game’s first 15 minutes. But the senior didn’t sulk or press the issue. Instead, he simply waited until just before halftime, when the right moment arose.
Spotting an opening in the lane, Marshall sliced through it and converted a floater that led to nine consecutive points and put the No. 6 Raiders on track for a 72-63 win at Wise in Upper Marlboro. The victory marked Eleanor Roosevelt’s second straight county title and fourth in five years.
“I just didn’t try to force the issue,” said Marshall, who finished with 17 points. “I seen the openings and tried to take what they gave me.”
Marshall’s teammates followed his lead and found their rhythm. After the Yellow Jackets scored the game’s first five points, the Raiders quickly responded, led by Trent Bishop (17 points) and his ability to assert himself in the paint and on the offensive glass during a 9-0 run.
The Raiders (19-3) would never trail again, using their methodical play and rebounding advantage to rack up 15 second-chance points while slowly building upon their lead.
“All of our big guys played really well. . . and second-chance points is always an emphasis of ours,” Raiders Coach Brendan O’Connell said. “Naji just had a great all-around game. He went a while without getting any touches, but he stayed patient and got some tough baskets against a tough team.”
After a soaring layup by Marshall gave the Raiders a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets (21-2) threatened to rally by pushing the tempo. But their chances were quickly stifled when Bishop connected with Victor Okafor for an alley-oop, sealing the Raiders’s 19th win in their last 20 games.
The last time the Forestville’s girls’ basketball team was together in Wise’s gymnasium, anger boiled inside the players.
The Knights were convinced that they should have been competing for the county championship — not the Largo team they watched fall to eventual 4A state champion Eleanor Roosevelt. That notion fueled their own Maryland 1A state title run.
On Wednesday, after enduring a tough national schedule, the No. 6 Knights got their chance to stake their claim locally, and they left no doubt, routing host Wise, 69-32, for their first county title.
“We came to the game last year and, boy, were we mad,” said Taleah Washington, who scored a game-high 21 points. “We wanted to come out here and show we belong and who the best team was.”
In doing so, the Knights (19-2) reeled off a 14-0 run in the first quarter, using their size advantage and a relentless pace to distance themselves from the Pumas (17-4). Anissa Rivera proved especially daunting for Wise’s defense, snagging offensive rebounds for easy putbacks and setting up along the perimeter for several jump shots.
“We knew they were smaller, so we just wanted to jump higher and run faster than them and not let up,” said Rivera, who finished with 15 points. “This win is pretty major for us.”