Top-ranked DeMatha fell behind early and, despite cutting its deficit to two points in the fourth quarter, lost for the first time this season, 73-65, to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas in the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Monday afternoon.
Gorman forward Shabazz Muhummad, considered the top player in the high school senior class, scored 37 points.
“We played Superman,” DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said. “When we had a chance to get [Jerami] Grant on him, Grant did a good job for the most part and slowed him down a bit. But then he got his fourth foul and we had to take him out and [Muhammad] got going again.”
The Stags (15-1) trailed throughout, but junior guard Jairus Lyles scored 11 of his team-leading 17 points in the third quarter to make things close. DeMatha got within two points early in the fourth quarter, but was unable to get over the hump.
A putback by James Robinson pulled the Stags within 62-59 with 3 minutes 20 seconds left. But Gorman scored the next 10 points, punctuated by a fastbreak windmill dunk by Muhammad, who is considering scholarship offers from Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, Arizona and Nevada-Las Vegas, among others.
“It’s definitely disappointing to lose, but whereas a lot of other teams may have something like this really affect them, we don’t have the luxury to do that,” Jones said. “We have to get ready for McNamara on Wednesday and there are a lot of things we can learn from this game going forward.”
Robinson added 13 points for DeMatha, while Grant and Marcellous Bell had 12 points each. Lyles also had seven rebounds and six assists.
Stanford recruit Roscoe Allen added 18 points for Gorman (13-3).
With his team protecting a one-point lead in the final minute of regulation, Scott Bolen dove for a loose ball. He felt a knee hit the back of his head, then the pain of his face hitting the wooden court.
Then Sherwood’s star forward had an even more bothersome feeling as he looked forward a few feet.
Oh no, I hope that isn’t my tooth, Bolen thought to himself as he saw the small white object on the floor.
“I picked it up and gave it to my dad. Yeah, it hurt, but I wasn’t going to take myself out.”
Blake forced overtime on Breon Herbert’s three-pointer at the buzzer, but Bolen and his teammates made sure they bounced back from the poorest showing this season. Just three days after a 40-point loss, Bolen scored 31 points and Brandon Loiacono scored the go-ahead basket in the final minute of the extra period to lift the Warriors to a 78-74 victory in a Montgomery 4A East Division game Friday night.
The victory provided a significant boost for Sherwood (9-3, 3-2), which was coming off an 86-46 loss to No. 10 Springbrook. Coach Dondrell Whitmore pulled his starters in the third quarter of that game; Bolen finished with a season-low eight points, well below his season average of 23.5.
In the practices between games, there was plenty of extra running, with everything done in multiples of four to remember the 40-point defeat.
“We didn’t want to forget it,” Bolen said. “We wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
After Friday’s victory, Bolen spent part of Saturday in a dentist’s chair.
“I went and got it all fixed up,” Bolen said. “They bonded it back on. It feels pretty weird. But it should be back to normal soon.”
Blake dropped to 10-2, 3-2..
Last week may have been the perfect remedy for C.H. Flowers, a Maryland 4A South Region finalist who stumbled three times early this season. On Tuesday, the Jaguars topped South Region champion Eleanor Roosevelt, 47-42. Then two days later, C.H. Flowers stopped a hot Suitland team, 52-43.
“It was a very good week for us and a very important week,” C.H. Flowers Coach Billy Lanier said.
With a team of mostly sophomores and juniors, the Jaguars surprised many by reaching the region final. But this year, their strong guard play made them an early favorite.
Then came the letdown, a 65-57 loss to Oxon Hill, after a big win over Wise three days earlier. Then came two losses in their holiday tournament, both games in which the Jaguars led early. Lanier says the his team, comprised of six seniors and five juniors, has the talent but is learning to stay consistent.
“There’s still some growth and some learning,” he said. We have to “learn how to be successful and maintain that success and what it takes to be successful on the floor. We didn’t bring that same intensity” against Oxon Hill.
Last week, however, propelled C.H. Flowers (7-3, 7-1) into the lead of a crowded Prince George’s 4A field. Three teams — No. 15 Duval, No. 16 Eleanor Roosevelt and Bowie — have 6-2 records in the league. And with a month left in the regular season, there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut leader.
The Jaguars have the depth that could help them make a deep run. Three players — David Barnes, Dontae Holloway and Reggie Sidbury — are averaging double digits. Last year’s leading scorer, junior Brandon Green (9.3 ppg), was slowed by a sprained knee early.
“The beauty of our team is that we have three or four guys who can score the ball on any given night and be double-digit scorers,” Lanier said. “If we’re good, we have three or four guys in double-digits each night.”
After the loss of senior guard Austin Vasiliadis to a knee injury during football season, Langley knew it would likely take time for the team to adjust not just to new faces on the court, but to a system that might have to change without the Saxons’ starting point guard.
Indeed, the Saxons took their lumps and learned some lessons. But after opening the season 4-5, Langley (8-5, 6-0 Virginia AAA Liberty) has won four straight and has a prime opportunity to open up a big lead in the district standings when it meets rival McLean on Tuesday.
“I think for starters it’d give us a two-game lead in the district over everyone half way through, which would be huge,” Saxons Coach Travis Hess said. “That in itself is huge, and the kids understand that and will give a great effort.”
With Vasiliadis out, Langley had to lean on its other seniors to fill the leadership roles the Johns Hopkins-bound guard had played.
Daniel Dixon (18.6 points per game) has stepped into a more prominent offensive role, and Hess pointed to the play of Joey Robinson (13.0 ppg) and Tristan Evans as vital, as well. Evans, who is averaging 10 points per game, scored a season-high 21 in a win over Madison on Jan. 10, and 17 points in a win over Marshall on Jan. 13.
“They are the catalyst for other guys going hard,” Hess said. “And it’s been a major change for us since the holiday break.”
McLean (12-2, 5-1) could be the biggest challenge to Langley’s streak of four consecutive district titles.
The Highlanders’ loss to Fairfax on Jan. 13 was their first in region play and just their second all season. And the play of Thomas Van Wazer (14.4 ppg), Sango Amolo (13.2 ppg) and Gordon Rogo (12.7 ppg) has pushed the Highlanders into the conversation of region favorites.
“All the attention that McLean has gotten this year is very well deserved,” Hess said. “There’s a reason for it. They return three seniors that have been in the system for several years, they have a lot of good wins, a great record. … We don’t talk about, ‘remember us,’ we just think we’re one of the top teams in the district regardless of our out of district record and we want to try to prove that every single night.”
In North Stafford’s games early in the season, before football players off the Virginia AAA Division 5 semifinal team joined the roster, the Wolverines tended to stand around and watch senior transfer guard T.J. Jones. He scored 30 or more points in five of the team’s first six games.
When junior Brandon Ravenel reported to the team from football, however, the all-Northwest Region receiver set his teammates into motion. The spectating was over.
“Brandon would rather work without the basketball than work with the basketball,” said third-year North Stafford Coach Brad Lear, who also is an assistant football coach. “He’s not going to pull the ball out and dribble and go one on one and try to cross you over. But he’s going to try to run you off two screens and back-cut you for a layup.
“Now no one stands and watches T.J. do his thing because they all know if they can try and fill a void or find an opening they’re probably going to get a layup because T.J. is such a good passer.”
North Stafford (12-2, 9-1) is in first place in the Commonwealth District and Tuesday night plays at Mountain View (9-5, 6-3), the team that handed the Wolverines their only district loss, 60-56, on Dec. 6.
Jones, who moved in from South Carolina, is averaging about 25 points per game. Senior forward Trejon McGee is averaging 17. North Stafford has no player taller than 6-foot-3 senior Tykie Nelson.
In its first three games this season, the McDonough allowed 105 points per game in three lopsided losses.
With all five of his regular starters standing shorter than six feet tall, McDonough Coach Eulo Regala, Jr., instituted an up-tempo system designed to give his players a chance to outrun their bigger opponents.
But when a stomach bug made its way through the McDonough roster over the first month of the season, the Rams’ defense and conditioning suffered, and they were beaten at their own game.
“We just didn’t have the guys at practice,” Regala said. “So when we were going over our defensive rotations, guys were missing. When one guy rotates wrong in the game, it kills [the defense].”
McDonough started the season 1-5, but the roster was finally getting healthy by Christmas break, when the Rams started to consistently have a full complement of players at practice.
Since then, McDonough (6-6, 2-0 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) has won five of its past six, including tough road wins last week over Calvert (8-4, 1-2) and Great Mills (7-5, 1-1) to open its league schedule.
The Rams have maintained their fast-paced style when they can, but they have allowed only 72.2 points per game during the six-game stretch.
“We’re coming along now,” Regala said. “It’s amazing what can happen when you have four or five practices with everybody there.”
A transition-oriented offense can lead to some lofty statistics, and McDonough enters its next game Wednesday against Patuxent (1-10, 0-3) featuring four players who average scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Khari Bess (21.7 points per game) and senior guard Anthony Cheaves (16.7 points per game).
Senior forward Omar Floyd is averaging 13.8 points per game and 11 rebounds per game, while junior forward Rashaad Kennedy is averaging 10.5 points and 14 rebounds, and junior guard Marquel Austin averages 7.4 points and 12 assists.
Ten games remain for a team that finished 14-10 last year after a similar 0-5 start, and with a full roster healthy and ready to run, the Rams feel like they are in a good position to continue the turnaround.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Regala said. “You have to adjust to what the kids can do best, and sometimes that takes a while to find out.”