Something was missing at No. 1 Eleanor Roosevelt’s final home game of the season Friday, the game normally reserved for senior night. No hand-drawn signs peeled precariously off the walls, no pregame ceremony thanked players for four years of hard work, no flowers exchanged hands, and no tears fell between friends with little court time left to share.
No one had forgotten about the annual staple of high school sports calendars across the country; Roosevelt simply doesn’t have any seniors to celebrate. Seven juniors lead the Raiders, who are closing in on their second straight undefeated regular season. The team is captained by one of them, Tolu Omokore, and sophomore Kaila Charles. In other words, the team that’s torn up Prince George’s County competition on its way to an 18-0 record and 15-0 mark in conference and is loaded with deep playoff experience after a run to the state semifinals last year, is still growing and maturing — and is back intact next season.
“It’s scary,” Roosevelt Coach Delton Fuller laughed after his team’s 53-44 win over Bowie.
The truly terrifying reality faced by the rest of Prince George’s County is that Fuller’s Raiders aren’t the only top team in Prince George’s 4A returning its major fire power heading into next season. Youth reigns for the No. 8 Flowers Jaguars (14-1, 14-1 PG4A), whose top eight scorers are all juniors or younger. Automatic double-double player De’Janae Boykin is just a junior, as is emerging guard Sierra Eggleston. Third-leading scorer Nicole Hill will be in the Flowers backcourt for two more years, and freshman upstart Daija Warren isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
For Roosevelt, youthful energy has offset slow starts more often than not, even when Charles sometimes loses the range with her jump shot for a quarter or two or when Omokore occasionally gets into foul trouble.
“We’re trying to be leaders,” Charles said of the role she and Omokore play as those rare captains who aren’t fourth-year players. “We try to bring energy, make sure everyone’s doing things the right way, that people don’t get frustrated with each other. We just try to tell people ‘next play, ‘next play.’”
If Charles’s 17 points per game and lockdown defense and Omokore’s 13 points and double-digit rebounds represent them “trying” to lead their team, it’s likely no one will be happier to see the Raiders finally host a senior night than the rest of the Prince George’s County 4A coaches.
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