ROCKVILLE – Sophomore guard Ryan Cornish was ice cold all night, but with the score tied at 53-all he streaked into open space and received an outlet pass from senior Djordje Orcev and unfurled a running jump-shot to secure a tight victory and a MPSAA 4A West sectional title.
“I’m not going into a second overtime,” Cornish said defiantly on his game-winner, “I know I had to get that win and I had to make that layup.”
Richard Montgomery High School and Gaithersburg High School needed overtime
before they could determine the winner of the boys 4A West sectional final. The Rockets ended up the winners, 55-53 despite an off night from almost all of their major players. Cornish led all scorers with 20 points, Orcev contributed 11 points, and junior Devin Liyanamana rounded the Rockets out with 10 points. The Trojans were led by sophomore Jao wing Ituka, sophomore Mandela Tark, and sophomore forward Jordan Hawkins, who scored 17 points, 12 points, and 10 points respectively.
“This is what high school basketball is all about,” Head coach David Berslaw said, “ I love that we have this with Gaithersburg, I love how we’re going back and forth. I just love what us and Gaithersburg are creating.”
Gaithersburg was able to play their style of basketball all night, crashing the boards, and imposing their will physically throughout the night. Meanwhile, the Rockets couldn’t finish at the rim, their jump-shots clanked frequently, but their defense was outstanding. The Rockets game-plan of pressing full-court, as well as using a 2-3 zone and double-teaming Ituka And Hawkins whenever they had the ball up top worked to perfection. The aggressive trapping scheme helped the Rockets to force double-digit turnovers, while also forcing the ball out of their star sophomore wings.
The staunch defensive performance also helped on a night when the biggest lead was only a five-point lead by the Trojans. The low scoring affair afforded the Rockets a path to be able to fight back slowly, taking their third lead of the night when Cornish drained a long pull-up for 2, giving RM a 41-40 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Trojans nearly pulled a victory when they took a three-point leAd late in the fourth with a minute to go, but Liyanamana answered the ball scoring on a fast break layup, and then fed Orcev for a game-tying layup off a botched out-of-bounds play.
“ I just had to step up,” Liyanamana said, “ we know not everyone’s going to score 20 points every game. We’re a very balanced team everybody can play their role and know what to do.”
In overtime it was the Cornish show, scoring all six of the Rockets points. Despite being off the mark with his jump-shot all night, it was a pair of free-throws that gave him the confidence to drain that aforementioned buzzer beater.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Sidwell Friends School senior Dean Mazlish had the ball in his hands with six and a half seconds left and down two points against defending District of Colombia State Athletic Association champion Woodrow Wilson and shocked the DMV hoops scene when he launched the game-winner over senior Romaro Hutchinson.
“We threw it in down court and they were pressing so there wasn’t enough time to run the play,” Mazlish said, “I came down I saw the clock had like, three seconds and I knew I had to improvise. Went behind my back, saw the guy kinda just, take a step back so I had to pull -up.
The Quakers won their first ever DCSAA title Sunday night over the Tigers, 63-62. Guard Jason Gibson led all scorers with 24 points, and forward Jack Lewis contributed 18 points of his own. Junior wing Dimingus Stevens scored a team-high 21 points and was followed up by senior Boston College-commit Jay Heath and his 17-point performance.
Sidwell was able to grab a eight-point lead early in the second quarter off a Gibson 3-pointer and if Wilson didn’t unleash a 10-0 run, including a breakaway dunk and back-to-back 3-pointers Stevens, the Quakers looked like they were primed to extend their lead to double-figures. Following a pair of free-throws from senior Carlos Dunn to give the Tigers a 27-26 lead with seconds to spare in the first half, Mazlish was able to take back a one-possession lead when he nailed a 3-pointer right before the buzzer sounded off.
Wilson came out in the second half and after initially trading buckets early on, reeled off a 12-3 run that culminated in a 44-35 lead after a pair of Stevens free throws. The Quakers gradually battled back and took the lead late when Gibson went on a personal 13-6 run and took a two-point late within a minute of the game. Heath responded when he got to the lane, drew a foul, and then sunk two free throws to tie the game up. Both programs had a final chance to hit a game-winner but Gibson’s shot was too strong, while Heath’s desperation from beyond half-court fell shot. The pair of missed shots forced an unexpected overtime at 53-all.
One development the crowd and coaches were interested in was the fact that the trio of Carlos Dunn and Mitchell twins (University of Maryland-commits Makhi and Mahkel) fouled out within the closing minutes of regulation.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” Gibson said, “ my seniors came (up) big for me when I fouled out and I can’t ask for a better group of guys.”
During overtime, the Tigers took the first of the extra period off a Stevens layup, but gave up six straight points including a Gibson to Lewis dime for a 3-pointer that gave the Quakers a 59-55 lead midway through overtime. Wilson responded sinking four free throws in their subsequent possessions, but Gibson drew one more foul but then fouled out the next Tigers possession with 39 seconds left. The Tigers were able to get one more stop and looked to cement their win when Dimingus Stevens caught a Heath pass in stride and layed the ball up to make it 62-60. Tigers head coach Angelo Hernandez called a timeout immediately after with just over six seconds left while it looked like Lewis sunk a possible buzzer beater. Although the shot was waived off, Malzin caught the ball out of the timeout and sunk the Tigers on an incredible dagger 3-pointer with the clock hitting zeroes.
“This amazing,” Mazlish said after climbing the ladder to get his piece of basketball net twine, ”This is the best way to get out.”
“Everybody was counting us out at the beginning of the season,” Gill said, ” We got the W and it just feels good.”
Monday night, Williams and Gill fulfilled their promise and led the Purple Eagles to a 60-56 win over St. John’s College High School. Williams scored a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, Gill followed up with 19 points and eight rebounds, and junior Myles Stute put up 10 points and eight rebounds. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell(19 points), Darius Maddox(14 points), and Ishmael Leggett(11 points).
” They’ve been dying for this,” Turner said of his championship squad, “This has been all they’ve talked about since the day we lost here last year at the same time. They worked their tails off. We’ve had some ups and downs and when it mattered most, this team bonded at the right time to make it happen for them to stand here tonight as WCAC champions.”
If you followed the WCAC all season, you know that these two programs being in the championship was a shocker. Gonzaga hit bottom when they lost to PVI, 69-44, but ended the conference and regular season winning 14 of their next 15 games. St. John’s themselves had some tough moment collapsing late in games, including losing to PVI and Baltimore Polytechnic in buzzer-beating fashion. They changed things around on an early season 10-game winning streak but they ended up losing four of their final seven regular season games to PVI twice and DeMatha and Gonzaga as well. However, three of the losses came to DeMatha, Gonzaga, and PVI at a combined 14-points, and looked to be playing their best basketball despite the losses.
Gonzaga and St. John’s came out trading buckets from the opening tip, until the Purple Eagles went off on an 11-0 run, with Williams scoring nine of those points, including back to back turn-around jumpers. Gonzaga turned an 18-9 lead into a 13-point lead after a Williams reverse layup gave the Purple Eagles a 28-16 advantage. St. John’s refused to give in and cut the lead to 29-22 after Morsell nailed a 3-pointer, but Stute came back with a tip-in and gave Gonzaga a nine-point lead going into the second half.
The Cadets were able to cut their deficit to seven points once again after going on a 9-2 run at the free-throw during a sloppy third quarter where St. John’s got a 10-2 advantage in team fouls. The Cadets and Gonzaga went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. The Purple Eagles built a 12-point lead when Stute corralled an offensive rebound and put it back up to make 51-39, Gonzaga. The Cadets responded with a 9-0 run, cutting the lead to 55-53 when Leggett knocked a 3-pointer to make the score 51-48 midway through the final frame. Gill came back down after a timeout laying the ball up on end and stripping Casey Morsell and throwing down a dunk in the subsequent possession to make it 55-48. John “Manzie” Wilson then connected with Morsell for a timely 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 30 seconds left in the game, but Williams was able to close the game out at the free-throw line, knocking five down.
“It’s a great moment,” Williams said, ” You know close throughout the game, solidifying the championship win, live for moments like that.”
Darius Maddox told me post game ” odds against us I just knew we were gonna go out there and fight,” with Ish Leggett adding ” It’s that simple.” SJC is coming in primed with confidence and playing some great basketball ahead of tomorrow’s WCAC chip’ game
WASHINGTON D.C. – The WCAC descended once again on American University for their annual playoff to determine their conference champion this past weekend. After a long regular season, the final four teams remaining were DeMatha Catholic High School, Paul VI Catholic High School, Gonzaga College High School, and St. John’s College High School. The winners of these two games will advance to play for the championship on Monday.
The first game went down between number 1 seed of the tournament DeMatha, also the defending WCAC champs, and number 5 seed St. John’s. The Cadets secured the first spot in the WCAC championship game, upsetting the Stags 53-52. Forward Earl Timberlake led all scorers with 19 poins, and guard Justin Moore followed up with 15 points of his own. Guard Casey Morsell led three double-digit performance with 16 points, while Darius Maddox and Ishmael Leggett contributed with 12 points apiece.
“Definitely just coming out with energy, just coming out ready to kill,” Maddox said, “When I’m down then Ish is up, so we always got someone coming. Then when we’re both down then Casey is up so you never knew where it’s coming from.”
From the onset, the Cadets were able to throw the first punch. St. John’s was often the more physical squad, and made sure to force contested rebounds, catches, and shots. According to junior wings Darius Maddox and Ishmael Leggett, the Cadets took pride in being the underdog and coming out to fight, not just taking a punch to the mouth but landing frequent counters as well. The game was close throughout the contest, the largest lead of the night was the Stags by six, while the Cadets lead by a 4-point margin. The Cadets were able to grab the lead three times in the fourth quarter, after a Morsell layup to make it 41-40, and then off a forward Jalin Abbott 3-pointer off a Morsell pass in the pick-and-roll. The Stags responded swifty and took the lead off a Timberlake tip-in. The Cadets then reeled off a 7-0 run and grabbed a 51-47 lead they would not surrender when Maddox converted on an and-1 over center Hunter Dickinson. Timberlake cut the lead too 53-52 with a 3-pointer at the top of the key, responding to a Morsell pull-up jumper from the free throw line. SJC had two chances to ice the game with less 30 seconds remaining with both Morsell and Abbott at the free throw line but both the seniors missed the front end of a one-in-one opportunity. DeMatha had one last chance to win the game, getting the ball to Moore who drove strong to the rim but Morsell leaped high in the air and swatted the would-be attempt way, sending Bender Arena in a frenzy and making sure a new champ would be crowned.
“We knew (Moore) was going to it,” Morsell said, “ We tried to make it as hard for him as possible, if he was going to shoot it, make him shoot going left. He’s shooting a way lower percentage going left than right. Forced him to my help side, I knew he was not going to pass it so that is why I went up to get it.”
“Just a (wave) of happiness,” Leggett said, ” We been struggling throughout the season and all that hard work paid off that nobody saw it showed on the court today.”
Washington D.C ~ It was the perfect exclamation point to end the game on. Senior Anwar Gill corralled a DeMatha Catholic miss and took one dribble before flicking a outlet pass to Terrance Williams. The junior forward threw down the two-hand hammer and stared down Carsten Kolgenik in celebration.
“It was a good pass from Anwar,” Williams said, “ I just found an open spot on the (floor) to get it and I just finished it.”
The 65-58 Gonzaga victory was a full on battle. Both teams traded punches but Gonzaga landed the final one to secure their 10th win a row and first over DeMatha since losing to the Stags in last seasons WCAC championship game. The Eagles were led by a quartet of double-figure scorers. Williams scores a team-high 19 points while junior forward Myles Stute followed that up with 18 of of his. Junior guard Chuck Harris, who missed the first go around, and freshman point guard Devin Dinkins both contributed 10 points apiece. Earl Timberlake dropped 20 points Friday night, Hunter Dickinson handed out 13 of his own, followed up by a 10 point outing by Josh Wallace.
“You already know it’s going to be a big game, high intensity crowd,” Harris said in reference to the rivalry, “We owe these guys since they beat us at home.”
“I’ve been waiting to play these dudes,” Harris said since playing against DeMatha for the first time since last season, “Missing the first was alright but I had to come (to Carmody Center) and play my hardest.”
Gonzaga threw the first haymaker building up a seven point 19-12 advantage. The lead was created by the play of Dinkins and Williams. The freshman guard nailed a three pointer the top of the key followed by a Williams layup layup, then Gill nearly had the play of the night when he had a chase down block against Timberlake that brought the crowd to its feet. The Stags responded with a 7-0 run that gave them a 20-19 lead in the closing seconds of the first half. It was back-to-back layups from Wallace and Timberlake, and a pair of free throws from senior point guard Jahmir Young that highlighted the lead change. Just shortly before the buzzer went off Young went down with a leg injury and didn’t come back in the second half.
“Team effort”, Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner said, ” Only way you’re going to beat time like that is you got to have everyone dialed in and playing their part.”
The Eagles were more or less head to head throughout the third frame, with the Stags holding the lead, 28-23, after back-to-back 3-pointers from Timberlake. Dickinson created more of a cushion when he dropped a baseline jumper and went to work on the right block. The Eagles responded with a seven point spurt off the back of a Harris 3-pointer and free throws, then a Williams one legged fade-away to help Gonzaga to a 35-34 lead going into the final frame.
Following an 8-0 run powered by a Gill three ball, a Stute tip-in, and another 3-pointer by Stute, the Eagles grabbed a 46-41 lead and never looked back. In fact, Stute played out of his mind, scoring an incredible 14 points in the fourth quarter. Gonzaga build a lead as large as nine points, 57-48, after Stute nailed two more 3-pointers and flexed as the home crowd went wild. Williams then hit a step-back jumper over Dickinson then Stute blocked a layup attempt from Timberlake. The Stags cut the lead to 59-54 after successive layups from Wallace and then Kolgenik. Wallace was able to cut into lead once more after another pair of free throws and a point blank tip in but it wouldn’t be enough as Dinkins iced the game from the free throw lane.
“I was just playing, wasn’t thinking,” Stute said, “I was out there on the court just trying to give the best effort for my team. Play for my dogs and, I mean when the ball came to me I just shot my shot and it went in.”
Washington D.C ~ With just 3.3 seconds left and PVI down 60-58, Trevor Keels and Panthers teammates had all the confidence in the world that they would make the game-winning shot and steal one from St. John’s on Military Road.
“I knew I was going to hit the shot,” Keels said, “I had confidence in it. My team believed in it, I told them the games not over it.”
PVI stole a key WCAC win over St. John’s, 61-60 to extend their conference win streak to 32 wins. Keels finished the contest with 24-points and Dug McDaniel contributed 15-points. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell who scored a game-high 29-points. Ishmael Leggett joined him in double-figures with 14-points.
“They just don’t want to give that up,” PVI head coach Glen Farello said smiling and on the steak, “I thought we fought the whole game and Trevor kinda willed willed that shot in.”
It was a back-and-forth affair between the Cadets and Panthers. The Cadets held the lead for the majority contest, only facing a deficit twice. The game was tied up only three times as well. The largest lead of the night was just nine points after Casey Morsell dished an assist for a John Wilson layup to make it 23-14 early in the second quarter. Despite the adversity throughout the afternoon, the Panthers continued to dig and dig away at leads. Through the patient and poised play of Dug McDaniel, and the constant battering ram forays of Trevor Keels was all the offense PVI needed.
“Just pick up the slack,” McDaniel said on his role, “And just lead the team.”
The Panthers never gave up throughout the afternoon, and when Josiah Freeman implored to Keels to takeover late in the second half, that’s exactly what he did. In fact, he scored 17 of his 24 alone. That’s with Keels being blanketed by Morsell, one of the best on-ball defenders in the DMV. It was also Freeman that initiated the final exciting sequence of the game. The junior guard nailed a pair of free throws to tie it at 58-all after Morsell turned the ball over on the baseline with 29 seconds left. Casey Morsell patiently dribbled the clock down until nearly eight seconds were left on the game clock until he attacked the rim. He easily shed the defense of Trevor Keels off and extended for a left handed layup over the outstretched hands of Josh Oduro.
The late bucket left 3.3 seconds on the clock and enough time for PVI and Trevor Keels to get a potential game-winner off. The Panthers subsequently dropped the pass off the Keels who ran to the right side of the court and put up a near half-court shot that hit nothing but net. Dagger! Effectively ripping the Cadets hearts out and making a meal out of it.
Greenbelt ~Greenbelt ~ As he caught the ball at the top of the key with a running and one defender already on the ground all Cameron Brown had to do was rise up and finish. The Roose faithful were elated when Brown threw down a poster over Joel Webb.
“I’ve been playing here for my fourth year now on varsity,” Brown said “And every year there’s somebody out there that does the little thing to help us win and that’s what team always needs. Today was just my day.”
Eleanor Roosevelt took an important 72-50 victory over Wise in what has evolved into the marquee 4A Prince George’s County rivalry. The two proud programs faced off for first time this season after being delayed twice due to weather. Isaiah Gross quietly dominated with a game-high 24-points, Cam Brown turned in another two-way performance chipping in 11-points of his own, and Quinton Mincey finished off with 10-points of his own for Roosevelt. The Pumas were led by Joel Webb(14-points) and Fred Crowell (11-points).
The Pumas looked as if they were on their way to a big-time win after building a 12-point lead over the Raiders. Early in the second quarter, Wise was playing a more aggressive game. Playing with a sense of urgency as they continuously beat Roosevelt for coveted 50/50 loose ball opportunities, grabbed more offensive rebounds, and dug in defensively. Capitalizing on the slow start by Roosevelt is what led to Wise going on a 10-0 run, punctuated by a Javon Jones 3-pointer to make it 20-11. A layup late in the half from Webb created the largest lead of the night for Wise at 28-16. After a Roosevelt timeout, the Raiders finally woke up out of their haze and strung together numerous defensive possessions while going on a momentum stealing 9-0 run. The 50/50 balls, offensive rebounding, and general intensity the Raiders were generally missing came back at a critical juncture of the game. It was just 28-27 after Kyle Rose nailed a 3-pointer to end the first half.
“We were struggling just a little bit” Brown said, “But we just came together as a team and just kept getting stops, getting stops and we knew basically it would convert into offense.”
There was plenty of back-and-forth action in the second half, with neither team giving an inch to the other. That is until back-to-back 3-pointers from Willie Rivera and Kyle Rose gave the Raiders a 49-45 edge. The Raiders capitalized on the momentum further by going on another 9-0 run that made it 64-48 after a Brown layup and the aformentioned Brown dunk. It was all a part of a dominant fourth quarter where Roosevelt outscored Wise 26-7. In fact the Raiders didn’t allow another field goal for the final four minutes or so. The only point the Pumas could buy were from the free throw line when Crowell buried a pair.
“Everything was one and done,” Gross said, “Everyone started to lock in. Because we knew that this game could either make or break our season.”
The Raiders and Pumas face off again on Monday, this time in Upper Marlboro.
ICYMI: Technical Difficulties have been resolved! Click the link and read more about the the controversial overtime classic that went down at Madison Ave Saturday night
Hyattsville ~ Finally! After three days we now have a DeMatha Christmas Tournament champion. Not only that, we have a true champion bearer of DMV hoops. Speculation of who would win a game between DeMatha and Wilson was finally answered Saturday night.
“That was just a great game,” Stags coach Mike Jones said, “It was ugly, the referees let us play. Ultimately we had the ball last and thats, I think why we were successful.”
The Stags extinguished the Tigers, 56-54, in a thrilling overtime victory that ended on a controversial buzzer-beater from Earl Timberlake. Timberlake led all scorers with 18-points and a number of jaw-dropping blocksHunter Dickinson joined him in double-digits with 17-points. Makhi Mitchell led Wilson with a 13-point performance.
“We been playing against each other since we were kids,” Timberlake said, “They’ve always been good as a friendly rival.”
The sellout crowd on provided the ideal background for the game. Fans from all over the Washington D.C. metropolitan area traveled to Madison Avenue just to see these two champions play. Funny enough, it seemed like the crowd was split mainly between the Tigers and Timberlake, whom lives and grew up in the city himself. The game itself was fast-paced and physical. Neither team giving an inch to the other, bodies flying and falling on the floor like it was a 90’s NBA playoff game. Back-and-forth they went when Jay Heath hit a floater, DeMatha fed Dickinson on the right block and let him go to work. In fact, that hook shot led to a 9-2 run, giving the Stags a 20-15 lead going into the second quarter. The Stags entered the second half up 27-24, after Carlos Dunn’s double-clutch layup to end the half. Midway through the third quarter, Heath drove to the rim for an and-1 opportunity and had a chance to make tie the game at 33, but missed the subsequent free throw. Romaro Hutchinson tied the game up at 37-all when he knocked down a 3-pointer after a feed from Mekhi Mithcell. Hunter Dickinson responded with a hook shot from the right block to give the Stags a one-possession lead going into the fourth and final quarter.
It was in the final frame that Wilson finally took the momentum on a 9-0 run, highlighted by Dimingus Stevens’ back-to-back 3-pointers, including finishing a 4-point play over Justin Moore. Mekhi Mitchell than gave Wilson a 49-48 lead to give the Tigers their first lead of the game. Justin Moore had a chance to give the Stags a one-point lead but bricked the first free throw and then sunk the other one for just a 49-all tie. Heath’s ensuing fadeaway against Dickinson fell well short and forced overtime.
In the decisive overtime period, Wilson had to go at it without the Mitchell twins, M Makhel being disqualified at the 2:13 mark and Makhi leaving at 24.3 seconds. Nonetheless, the Tigers took the lead after back-to-back buckets from Zaakir Williamson gave Wilson a 54-50 lead. Dickinson, ever a consistent offensive hub, dropped another hook shot and then Jahmir Young sunk both his field trip to tie the game up. On their final possession, Jay Heath drove to the rim but lost the ball on the way up, giving DeMatha the ball with 24.9 ticks left. That’s when Earl Timberlake worked his magic and hit a fadeaway over Dimingus Stevens.
“We knew it was going to be one the top games in the DMV,” Timberlake said, “We just tried to use our heads and play tough.”
Despite the controversy of the game-winning shot going up in time or not, we would be remiss as media and basketball fans alike to say this contest won’t go down as a classic. Wilson’s next game will be against Ballou on January 4, while DeMatha goes up against Good Council on the same day.
Washington D.C. ~ Simply heartbreak. That was what Baltimore Polytechnic came in to deliver during their trip to the nations capital. The Engineers were already playing with something to prove, fully aware of the perception that Baltimore players do not stack up to the elite talent that the Washington D.C. metropolitan produces. The Engineers knew that a capturing signature win over a top 50 program like St. John’s College High School would make a very loud statement. The type of statement that can put Baltimore on the map as a hoops hotbed.
“This was for Baltimore,” Poly head coach Sam Brand said, “We heard a lot of talk about how Baltimore teams can’t compete down here and we know that we can. We embraced the opportunity to do so.”
The Engineers prevailed in overtime, 59-58, in the main event of the More Than Basketball St. John’s Invitational. Justin Lewis scored 16-points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Rahim Ali scored 15-points, dished a pair of assists, and grabbed six rebounds. The Cadets were led by a 20-point performance by Casey Morsell. Jalin Abbott and Ishmael Leggett joined Morsell in double-figures with 14 and 13
” We came in the game with a chip on our shoulder,” Ali said, “They’re a top-50 team in the country and that’s where we want to be.”
Through each bucket exchanged and every bit of trash talk spoken neither the Engineers nor the Cadets allowed themselves to lie down without a fight. That competitiveness and desire to win helped the Cadets erase an 11-point deficit on the strength of a 14-5 run in the third quarter that culminated in a 40-all tie after a Devon Dunn spin layup in transition. After a scoring drought that lasted nearly three minutes, Casey Morsell went on a personal 5-0 run to end the quarter to grab a 44-43 lead heading into the final frame. From there the Cadets would be lead by as much as five before the Engineers took the lead back when Justin Lewis sank a pair of free throws to create a one-point lead in the waning minutes of the game. Jalin Abbott than forced a Poly timeout when he hit a dagger 3-pointer to give his Cadets squad a 54-51 lead. Ali responded when he went the full length of the court and sank a sidestep 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Morsell to force an extra period.
Are you kidding me?! Right after Jalin Abbott hit a clutch 3-pointer to give @SJCBoysHoops the 54-51 lead, Rahim Ali came down and hit one right in Casey Morsell’s eye to force overtime pic.twitter.com/Fe4DqCqiuG
The overtime period provided some more fireworks from two proud programs. Ian Wallace scorched the nets late with a 3-pointer for a 57-56 lead, seemingly burying the Cadets after Morsell missed on a contested jumper, and John Wilson turned the ball after stepping out of bounds on the baseline. Poly than gave St. John’s after Lewis turned the ball over trying to inbound the ball and inadvertently set up the thrilling final sequence after Morsell scored on a tough layup with the clock dwindling down fast. Ali would coolly go the length of the full-court with untouched before hop-stepping and sinking a reverse layup to win the game.
“I just had to feed off my team,” Ali said, ” I had to know when to go and when to feed my team. I had to feed Justin (because) he was cooking. When they started double-teaming him I knew more was going to be open for me so I just took the shots that were open.
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Joshua Morgan-Green was an active, athletic kid who excelled at basketball from the time he was six. He received well-deserved basketball honors from local publications throughout his career. Fast forward to now and meet the businessman who founded an innovative basketball training and multimedia company housed in a facility that doubles as a learning center. He’s trained hundreds of kids all while caring for his growing family and fiancé at home.
“Working hard is the only thing I got to survive right now man,” Morgan-Green stressed. “People are depending on me to get it right.”
His mother, Sheri Morgan-Johnson, defined those early years as stressful, to say the least. She recalls taking Joshua on a trip to Atlanta to help a friend that was in search of models for a children’s calendar for her company. He talked so much they were ready to put the family back on the plane.
“I told his pediatrician, ‘Okay either you’re going to have to medicate him or you’re going to have to medicate me, one of us is not going to make it.” Morgan-Johnson reminisced. “I didn’t really mean that I was just trying to express to her that I was tired. I was glad I didn’t have a pediatrician who would try to settle him down.”
After this appointment, Morgan-Johnson accepted Josh’s overwhelming energy as part of their life. She sought out other ways for her son to use that active energy; signing him up for soccer, basketball, even tapping into his future businessman by being a part of a children’s investment fund that owns stock in Mcdonalds.
“If I had really crushed that energy and said I need you to sit in a chair, I need you to focus, you know, things may have turned out a little bit differently,” Morgan-Johnson added.
Morgan-Green would go on to invest the majority of that energy into a basketball career. A 5’10” point guard, he led his high school team in scoring for three years. He averaged 26 points a game as a junior, earning Honorable Mention honors in the Washington Post, First-Team All-Baltimore Sun, First-Team All-Arundel County, and runner-up for Player Of the Year for Anne Arundel County. He finished his junior year with an MIAA B Conference championship over then-defending champs Mount Carmel.
It seemed his senior year would go down in the record books, averaging 34 points a game before he broke his left wrist in a Christmas tournament game. He came down hard after throwing down a dunk and a trailing defender accidentally took his legs out. The rest of that game he was in pain, but he played through to the final buzzer. His final high school shot would be an overtime game-winner.
“When I got on the bus it just like swelled up, and I felt like I was having an anxiety attack,” Morgan-Green said. “They had to take me to the emergency room and they had to give me all of these meds and they told me my wrist was broken.”
His mother scheduled his surgery with the top hand-specialist. Morgan-Green received surgery requiring three screws to repair his left wrist. Full recovery was six to seven months, effectively ending his high school career and Division I recruitment.
The injury wouldn’t derail his goal of gaining a college degree. He even signed to play Division II basketball for Southern New Hampshire University and legendary head coach Stan Spirou.
“He was great. I mean he was a hard coach. He’d motherf**k you to death,” Morgan-Green said. “I just wasn’t prepared for that. I thought ‘This dude doesn’t like me why does he have me up here’. But, as I grew as a person, I started to realize that’s just his teaching style, it’s not personal.”
He followed his high school success with over 100 games at the collegiate level, but the real championship he wanted was in the classroom. Morgan-Green graduated in 2012 with an Information Technology Systems degree with a minor in Accounting. His first job was at Accenture as a software engineer, but he felt a void in his life. Basketball was his passion and first love, and he missed it. That’s when he decided to link up with Coach Cedric Holbrook and future St. Mary’s Ryken men’s head basketball coach Keith Booth in 2012. It was there that Morgan-Green met a promising sophomore guard in Jared Grey. A key piece for the Bowie High School basketball program and certainly a solid talent in Prince George’s County, Morgan-Green saw a lot of himself in Gray. He schooled the younger ballers. Eventually, Gray asked his young coach to share his secrets.
The mentor and mentee would sneak into Sport Fit Bowie and workout. Gray’s incremental improvements left an impression on his Bowie teammates. Gray’s little brother, Mike, Jalen Robinson, a current sophomore guard at Morgan State, and Quinton Drayton, a redshirt freshman who plays for Towson University, soon joined the workout sessions.
“Josh has been nothing but a big brother to me,” Jared Gray said. “He’s One of the main reasons why I had such a drastic improvement in my game in high school and on to college, constantly helping me out in the gym and in life period.”
Morgan-Green started JMG Training in 2014, making the first step in branching out on his own in the training business. Jared Gray recommended another young player, Johnathan McGriff, for Morgan-Green to workout. McGriff was a hyped-up point guard and incoming freshman playing for Bishop McNamara. The scouting report on the diminutive guard was that he had exceptional handles, but his jump-shot wouldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Morgan-Green and McGriff spent every day in the lab honing that jump shot. Hard work paid off when McGriff attended the CP3 Rising Star camp and stunned everyone. He went 10/16 from beyond the arc against Cole Anthony, the son of UNLV legend Greg Anthony.
After the camp, Morgan-Green picked up another client, Sheriff Kenny from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the number one player in the 2019 class at the time. When Morgan-Green returned to Maryland, he started working out McGriff and Kenney together and put together a workout tape that ended up going viral.
Video courtesy of Josh Morgan-Green’s YouTube
“That’s the first time I ever did like a little highlight tape for training,” Morgan-Green said, “Put it on Youtube, and it was like it blew up in a matter of days.”
Morgan-Green was able to get a consistent spot for JMG Training at Get Good Training Facility. He was also able to get McDonald’s All American and University of Maryland signee Jalen Smith on board to train as well. After posting another popular video sponsored by DMV Elite, Morgan-Green decided to take another big step. He knew that he wanted to create an innovative multi-million-dollar company and drew inspiration from Chris Brickley; a former Southern New Hampshire University player. Brickley was proof of the path out there for former college hoopers turned to overachieving trainers.
“You had these D2 guys that were now training D1 athletes, pro athletes. Morgan-Green said. “I’m like man, I know I can do it, it was just motivation for me.”
The strides that Jalen Smith made since working out with newly named Triple Threat Training, caught a windfall of recognition. Other marquee guys like Darryl Morsell, Ryan Allen, DJ Harvey, Chris Lykes, Aaron Thompson, and Daquan Bracey joined Smith and started coming up to train; denouncing their shoe-sponsored AAU teams they could train with for free. Triple Threat gave these guys a new environment to compete in. After the Title IX D.C. Classic in December 2016, Triple Threat posted a workout session mixtape in 2017 that went viral featuring future Division I hoopers Nia Clouden, Lindsey Pulliam, Mykea Gray, Octavia Wilson, Aisha Shephard, and Liz Martino. With that tape out, more young women like Kalia Charles and Raven James from the University of Maryland and Villanova helped start the girl’s program respectively. Morgan-Green was on the right track with his methods.
“It’s gotten so intense where it’s like you would think there would be a lot more fights cause you got big-name guys,” Morgan-Green said. “It’s just so fun to watch. And I got a film of this like I still can go back and look at those tapes.”
After the Get Good Facility closed in February 2017, Triple Threat faced its biggest test. They transitioned to holding sessions in Bowie City Gym. Morgan-Green also had to navigate around parents who couldn’t afford or simply refused to pay the workout fee.
“It sucked because now you start realizing the economics of everything. Because parents don’t want to pay for training.” Morgan-Green said. “They believe that their kid is the best in the world so they don’t believe that they should be paying for training. I don’t believe I should be working for free.”
To top it off, he lost a government IT job when his contract wasn’t renewed, losing benefits sorely needed for his young son and a second child on the way. Just eight days later, his daughter Nova was born on April 10th. With his son, Lil Josh and newly born Nova on his mind, that very next day, Morgan-Green decided to gamble once again on himself and find a permanent facility. Merritt Properties saw the vision for Triple Threat and decided to invest. On May 8th, 2017, the current facility was opened.
“Not many companies were willing to take a chance but Merrett did,” Morgan-Johnson said. “They have really stood by this company, Triple Threat Training and supported me in my venture.”
Now in 2018, Triple Threat is a thriving business. The entire Morgan family is heavily involved with day-to-day operations and allow Josh to focus on recruiting, marketing, and posting quality content. The company means so many things. It’s a safe space for kids to come in and express themselves. They can look at Morgan-Green as more than just their trainer but a big brother as well. Cultivating a competitive but nurturing environment where kids are being mentored to be more than athletes. It’s about the kids, not the AAU organizations or the coaches. At the end of the day, basketball doesn’t work without the kids.
“You have to be a listener. We always preach that this is more than training, you’re a mentor,” Morgan-Green said, “You just gotta keep instilling these qualities in these kids that it’s more than just basketball.”
Camps, all-star games and media sponsorships are a reality now, creating more exposure for his clients and other kids. The Triple Threat Classic evolved from holding three games to seven. The House of Threat Grind Session camp followed, which is an NBA-style combine for middle and high school boys and girls. The most sentimental event for Morgan-Green is the Audrey Augustus Breast Cancer Game, in honor of Morgan-Green’s aunt who passed away from breast cancer. Proceeds from the game are donated to the Avon Foundation and the game is dedicated to breast cancer survivors or those who passed. He’s even signed media contracts creating and marketing content for kids to get more exposure with St. James Academy, Archbishop Carroll and Bishop Ireton. Triple Threat also hosts the Gonzaga DC Classic. The girl’s program helped birth The Fifteen. Originally a local elite girls camp, it transformed into a national event in the summer of 2018, featuring local talents like Liz Martino, Lyric Swan, and Jakia Brown-Turner and national players like Celeste Taylor, Jordyn Oliver, and Deja Kelly. Jahmir Young, Mekhi Long, and Myles Stute were amongst the group headlining the inaugural boys The Fifteen.
The ultimate goal for the company is to start training professional basketball players. Morgan-Green hopes to maintain these training relationships starting with high school, through college and ultimately into their professional career. Generational wealth is the goal for his family. There’s a certain pride that comes with owning your own business with hopes of passing it on and keeping it in the family. According to Morgan-Green, it’s all for his two kids, and the future generation coming up. Acquiring generational wealth and being able to provide opportunities previously unattainable.
“That’s one of the main reasons it’s even more important because it’s like to be that figure to a little boy and a little girl,” Morgan-Green said. “You know people have done that all throughout time and you see it feeds families.”
“You ask my mom that’s probably the first thing that she says,” Morgan-Green said staring off into the distance, imagining the possibilities, “She loves that word, that’s why she helps.”