Poolesville’s boys’ basketball team is used to standing up to the big guys. With just a handful of 3A/2A teams peppering Montgomery County, the 2A Falcons’ 21-game schedule features 11 games against much larger 4A schools, and 10 against 3A/2A teams.
“Anytime we play against a bigger school, it’s definitely a statement game,” said Poolesville senior point guard Andy Baker. “When little Poolesville beats a 4A school, it’s a big deal, and we really get hyped for those games.”
So far this season, the 5-1 Falcons are 2-1 against 4A competition, including a 44-43 win over previously unbeaten Blake Friday night. A big reason for that success is the fearless defense of Craig Morton, who Coach Ken Kramek has tasked with the job of standing up to each opponent’s top scorer.
“I like it,” Morton said of his shutdown role. “Nobody really notices as much as the big offensive scorers, so there’s that downside to it, but whatever gets the job done, whatever gets the win.”
Friday, Morton stifled versatile and high-scoring Blake swingman Demonte Ojinnaka. Though Ojinnaka was averaging more than 20 points per game through the team’s first four games, Morton held Blake’s slasher to six points.
“This year, he’s been huge for us,” Baker said. “Every team we’ve played has this one guy we’ve needed to stop. And every game we put him on that guy and he does a heck of a job. His scoring probably goes down a little bit because he gets worn down on defense, but we need it. It’s been real big.”
Baker, too, has had to sacrifice scoring to spark Poolesville’s strong start. A two-guard/swingman last season, Baker slid to the point to fill the void left by graduated Kirby Carmack, who directed the Falcons to an 18-7 record last year.
“I liked my scoring position. . . but coach needed me to run the point,” Baker said. “I just wanted to get the offense started, limit the turnovers, and give the team the best chance to win, while looking for shots along the way.”
He seems to have found plenty, as he’s averaging just fewer than 15 points per game through six games, the team’s second-leading scorer behind Trevor Stottlemyer, who’s also averaging a tick fewer than 15. Morton and fellow senior Anthony Papagjika (13 points per game) have also chipped in consistently to replenish the Poolesville scoring attack, which lost two of its top five scorers to graduation.