Forgive Gwynn Park seniors Xavier Richards and Agyei Gregory for not knowing at first just how important Friday night’s Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A game against Largo was going to be. They’re both natives of the Virgin Islands and came to Gwynn Park for their final year of high school for a better shot at college.
And even though adjusting to a new school and a different style of basketball wasn’t easy at first, the cousins showed that they’re quickly grasping their new surroundings — and they’re excelling in it, too. Richards and Gregory combined for 40 points in a thrilling 78-76 upset win over the 13th-ranked Lions in Brandywine.
“I love playing with [Richards],” said Gregory, who led the Yellow Jackets with 21 points off the bench. “He’s my biggest competition and I’m sure I’m his biggest competition. But when we’re on the floor together, it’s great.”
Back home on the island of St. Thomas, Richards and Gregory played for rival high schools, joining forces only during summer basketball. But together they decided to move in with their uncle Scheniko Frett, who lives near Gwynn Park.
“I didn’t really know about the opportunity but [my uncle] told me to come because he knew I was good at basketball and I needed a better education,” said Richards, who had 19 points.
And though both admit it was difficult at first to pick up everything that was new, they have both started to settle in at their new school.
Against Largo (9-2, 7-1), the 6-foot-1 Richards showcased his incredible leaping ability, recording 11 rebounds and five crucial blocks. Gregory, a 6-foot-2 sharpshooter, had 15 points at the half to help the Yellow Jackets build a 39-31 lead.
Gwynn Park (8-4, 6-1) pushed further ahead in the third quarter, leading by 21 points, before Largo mounted a comeback behind standout senior guard Derrick Colter (20 points). The Lions trimmed the deficit to four points with a 1 minute 40 seconds left.
Led by Richards and Gregory, the Yellow Jackets withstood a pair of three-pointers by Colter in the final 14 seconds to eke out the win over their rivals, who were unknown to both of them only months before.
“We knew about the hype from our teammates and the build-up during the week,” Gregory said.