LAUREL — Behind a monster third quarter performance from Jaden Faulkner and stifling team defense on the other end, No. 4 Eleanor Roosevelt held off No. 6 Frederick Douglass in the Prince George’s County Challenge at Laurel High School Saturday night, 63-59.
The contest started in fast-in-furious fashion as Douglass controlled the pace, forcing Roosevelt sophomore guard Cameron Brown to play to their tempo. Douglass, with their full-court press, converted two steals into thunderous fast-break dunks, both by DeMarius Pitts.
Jaden Faulkner’s steady presence had Roosevelt out in front after the first quarter, 16-15.
The second quarter started off inauspiciously for Roosevelt, as Douglass clamped down on defense, going on a 9-2 run punctuated by two fast-break dunks from Pitts and Zion Cousins.
“I think we handled adversity well as a team,” Faulkner said. “We just came out together and said it’s just a run, they’re going to punch us so we’re going to punch back.”
Despite the sudden momentum change, the Roosevelt squad did not didn’t welter.
Instead of playing Douglass’ run-and-gun style, Roosevelt countered with physicality inside. Forwards Marquise Certain and Augustine Okafor controlled the boards, took charges, and challenged every shot they could at the rim.
Douglass led at halftime, 34-31.
In the third quarter, the Raiders outscored Douglass 21-6 to mount a 52-40 lead heading into the fourth period.
Once again, Faulkner (game-high 29 points) commanded the offense and reeled off another 10-point burst during the momentous third quarter. Okafor, Certain and Isaiah Gross also contributed to the burst.
Frustration settled in for Douglass, as a technical foul ballooned a four-point deficit into eight when Roosevelt’s Isaiah Gross converted four of five free throws.
Roosevelt led 50-42 after Gross’ four free throws, and Faulkner extended it to 12 after a layup.
Douglass opened the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run and temporarily took their first lead since the opening minute of regulation, 55-54.
“We knew they were going to go on a run,” sophomore Cameron Brown said. “We just had to stay together as a team and when it got close we had to get more stops and convert on offense.”
After the Douglass run, Roosevelt answered and retook the lead, 56-55, behind a pair of Faulkner free throws.
From there, the Raiders defense and four free throws from Cameron Brown put the game away.
“I think the kids showed a lot of toughness tonight,” Eleanor Roosevelt coach Brendan O’Connell said. “Just playing through mistakes and the ups and downs. Both teams went on a bunch of big runs, our guys showed a lot of heart and mental toughness.”
The Raiders were without starter Barly Kanu, who is out with an undisclosed injury. O’Connell said Kanu will likely be back next week.
Roosevelt resumes play against High Point and has a rematch with ranked Bladensburg. Douglass Douglass, meanwhile, plays Croom Vocational and Surrattsville.