Rockville ~ With the backdrop of a raucous home crowd, the hottest ticket in the Montgomery County was the between Gaithersburg and Richard Montgomery. TheRockets and Trojans scratched and clawed their way to victory, fighting for bragging rights and County supremacy. As RM Head coach David Berslow described, it was the team that didn’t take their lead for granted that was going to win. For every pull-up jumper cashed in, someone else seized control with a key offensive rebound or three-pointer. Plain and simple, you can make any mistakes in this type of rivalry game.
“This is the biggest game of the season and we’re going to play them two more times,” Ryan Cornish said, “I feel like we got to move on. Fix our mistakes. We didn’t play as well as we could’ve.
Rockville held Gaithersburg at bay, 70-65, to remain unblemished at 9-0. The battle of Montgomery County 4A titans lived up to the hype in spite of Gaithersburg coming in at 8-1. Sophomore Ryan Cornish and Miles Gally scored 21-points apiece and Djordje Orcev finished with 15-points of his for the Rockets. The Trojans were led by the sophomore backcourt of Jao Ituka and Jordan Hawkins dropping 26 and 21-points respectively.
“It’s always fun playing against (Ituka and Hawkins),” Cornish said, “You know people are going to come out and watch us play.”
Initially, Gaithersburg was able to build a 5-point lead bu crashing the offensive boards, and the play of Jordan Hawkins. The 6’4 guard was getting to the rim at will, and controlled the glass scoring 15-points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Gaithersburg was able to lead for the first 12 minutes of the game before Richard Montgomery roared back with an 11-0 run and led 36-27 late in the second quarter. The run was punctuated by a falling Cornish 3-pointer that fell despite a heavy contest.
“We go up nine, we just think they’re going to roll over. I think both teams are used to that,” Coach Berslaw, “It’s a maturity thing both teams are more than less led by sophomores. That’s its a big part of it we got maturity from the seniors.”
The sudden nine-point deficit was reversed into a lead after Ituka and Hawkins went on a scoring tear. After a Chris Kouemi layup tied the game at 42-all, back-and-forth the programs went. Until a 3-pointer from Ituka sparked a 10-3 run that gave Gaithersburg a 54-47 lead. After switching into a zone defense to switch things up, the Rockets went on a decisive 11-3 run behind the play of the Rockets Big Three. After Orcev knotted the game up with a 3-pointer from a Gally pass, Gally unleashed a full-court outlet pass to Cornish for a layup to take the lead at 65-63. The zone defense also led to a defensive lockdown of the Trojans, and the Rockets didn’t a single field goal over the final 2:29 of the game. The inability of the Trojans to score was accentuated by Cornish gaining his fourth foul at the 2:09 mark. Ituka tried valiantly to make up the deficit but his shots weren’t falling, meanwhile, Gally, Cornish, and Kordell Lewis closed the game out from the free throw line.
“This is nothing, this means nothing in the end. Undefeated, rankings, all that means unless we win the third game.” Berslaw said, “ If we win the next one, that third one that’s like we’re climbing up Mount Everest.