Kethan Savage spent a larger share of time in the weight room this past offseason. The senior guard dropped a few pounds in his midsection and added some muscle to his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame while also working to improve his stamina.
Still, as ninth-ranked Episcopal was locked in a close game Friday in the opening round of the Bullis Holiday Classic, Savage said he felt fatigued. His legs felt heavy.
How the George Washington recruit felt and how it looked, though, were two different things. Savage scored a career-high 32 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and was dominant when the game was close in the third quarter as the Maroon pulled away to beat Good Counsel, 84-72.
The performance was magnified by the situation. All-Met forward Arnaud Adala Moto, Episcopal’s other top player and a Wake Forest recruit, was in foul trouble throughout and finished with six points in just more than 10 minutes.
“Especially with Arnaud in foul trouble I tried to push myself to go as much as possible,” Savage said. “It was tough because they were doubling me a little bit.”
“I’m realizing, watching college basketball and going to games, how much more physical and intense it is at the next level,” Savage added. “I could get away at the high school level with not getting in the weight room, but I want to take the next step so that when I go to college, I’ll be ready.”
Episcopal (4-1) also got career-highs from junior guard Doug Chappell (18 points) and senior forward Foster Joseph (16 points). But with Adala Moto in foul trouble and a three-year member of the Alexandria boarding school’s squash team taking his place — senior forward Rob Williamson, who tried out for basketball this season for the first time — there was no question that Savage was the Maroon’s key player.
The Falcons (3-2) had taken a 44-42 lead midway through the third quarter on a steal and basket by Andrew Calomeris. But then Savage took over, scoring 13 points in less than four minutes. He also took a key charge that eliminated a Good Counsel basket, anticipated a pass on defense to make a steal that led to a basket and hustled back in transition to block a shot from behind.
It didn’t hurt that Savage was lucky, too. He shot one free throw that bounced off the back of the rim and hit the top of the backboard before softly falling through the basket.
“I put a lot on him,” Episcopal Coach Jimmy Fitzpatrick said, noting that Savage is working to make himself into a point guard instead of a shooting guard, the position he had played throughout high school. “I want him to be able to at least compete for the point guard position next year. And he’s learning to be a leader. . . . In my opinion, I know I’m biased, but Kethan is playing as well as anyone in the area right now.”
Sophomore guard Byron Hawkins, a transfer from Friendly, led Good Counsel with 21 points.