Overtime Thriller Ends In Buzzer Beating Fashion

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.

Sidwell Friends Shocks Wilson In DCSAA Title Game

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.”

St. John’s Stuns Defending WCAC Champs DeMatha

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.”

Gonzaga Dispatches DeMatha

By: Brooks Warren

Follow @_bwarren on Twitter

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.”

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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.”

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Trevor Keels Rips the Cadets Hearts Out Late In a WCAC Classic

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.”

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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.

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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.

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The Cadets play Bishop Ireton and the The Heights this coming next, while the Panthers play DeMatha, McNamara, O’Connell, and Good Council.

Roosevelt Runs Away With Victory Over Wise

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.

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“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.

Poly Breaks St. Francis’ Heart

Towson ~ You’re teammates trusting you to hit the biggest shot of the game even though you hadn’t scored all night says a lot. That’s exactly what happened when Justin Lewis drew a double-team and threw a precision pass to Ian Wallace who hopped into it for a dagger 3-pointer over Jordan Toles with just just 15 seconds to go in the game.

“The first option option wasn’t there (and) of the course the plan was to get the ball to the rim,” Wallace said, “They closed in on Justin so I had to be ready to shoot the ball at the arc.”

The final tally being 59-58, Brandon Murray(game-high 22-points), Justin Lewis(16-points), and Rahim Ali(11-points) carried Poly to a thrilling marque victory over St. Francis. The Panthers were led by Rajeir Jones’ team-high 21-points, followed by Jamal West and his 15-points.

“Our program was built around wanting to test ourselves in games like tonight,” Poly head coach Sam Brand said, “St. Francis was one of the first of my AA teams that would play us. We been doing this six years now and its been a big time atmosphere and competitive game every time.”

Playing at SECU Arena and a college court, both Poly and St. Francis acclimated to the size and depth of a college arena and decidedly played some high level basketball. The Engineers and Panthers went back and forth for the entirety of the first half, with Poly grabbing their second lead of the game when Ali finished a layup off a Murray assist to make it 26-25 at the half. The third quarter is when the Panthers flexed their dominance with multiple different defensive looks to get the Engineers fit. It resulted in a 21-11 scoring quarter.

“We got it, it only takes one run,” Ali told his teammates “The game is a game of runs and I knew that ours was google to come. All that matters is we had the last run we was going to win.”

After being down by as many as 11-points late in the third frame, the Engineers methodically climbed their way back into the contest to steal victory. During the decisive fourth quarter the Engineers narrowed the lead down to 52-47 after a Murray dunk. After a quick spurt from from the Panthers to make it 56-50 the Engineers responded with their own 9-2 run. The run was punctuated by back to back three pointers, first from Murray to make it a one-possession game at 56-53. The latter coming from the aforementioned 3-pointer by Wallace. The play was a perfect amalgamation of Brand telling his players they’re all stars earlier in the day and anyone can make the winning play. Tole raced back down the court and drew a foul to get to the line but missed both free throws, and when Amani Walker missed the front end of a one and one, the Panthers again had another chance but couldn’t put down any of their point-blank tip in chances.

“We just knew we had to push” Murray said on the last run, “We all came together, the heart and the soul of the team is through everybody. It’s from one-14 and it’s not even just the starters it’s not (anybody) it’s all of us.”

Video courtesy of Brooks Warren

Towson Takes Down Loyola 85-69

Towson ~ The college basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint. A frustrating 0-3 outing at the Island of Bahamas Showcase had Towson Head Coach reminiscing about his first season at the school, a 31-loss season. Nevertheless, he made it clear that he was proud of his guys for their resiliency, especially in the last 10 minutes.

“It’s a work in progress,” Brian Forbes said, “It may take a while, but this game definitely helps especially with our spacing, moving the ball, not being stagnant.”

The Tigers came back from a seven-point deficit at the half to win 85-69 over Loyola. Fobbs andTobias Howard combined for 48 points in the win, 25 and 23 respectively. The two transfer guards are a part of the 10 new players on this squad, and proudly own the pressure and responsibilities of being the leaders of this team. Nakye Sanders, the third of the 10 players, joined them in double figures with 14points and added nine rebounds. Loyola was led by Andrew Kostecka, who scored a career-high 30 points.

“They run good offense,” Towson Head Coach PatSkerry said, “Anytime a guy drops 30 on you, you got trouble.”

It was a tale of two halves for the two Baltimore universities. Loyola was able to run their sets and execute their offense in an efficient manner, hitting on 51 percent shooting of their field goals, including knocking down seven 3-pointers at a 41percent clip. Astonishingly, out of their 17 field goals, 11 of them were assisted. Loyola was able to rip off a 14-5 run to take control of the game, creating a 36-28 advantage. At this moment five different Greyhounds scored, including Kostecka who scored seven points. The junior guard hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Kenneth Jones that gave Loyola a 25-24 lead, a steal-and-dunk, and a tip-in basket.

 “We try to pride ourselves on defense,” Skerry said, “But they’re a hard team to guard.”

The Greyhound formula of forcing catches away from the play and giving up little to no space on dribble-drives resulted in the Tigers initiating their offense deep in the shot clock and having to put up heavily contested shots. Fortunately, Towson hit 48 percent of their shots, but couldn’t hit the ocean from distance, only hitting three3-pointers out of 11. The Tigers turned it around on the Greyhounds, stiflingLoyola into 27 percent shooting from the field, and allowing two 3-point baskets. Towson grabbed the lead and never looked back during a 10-0 run, finished off by the aforementioned Fobbs-Timberlake 3-point connection. Loyola cut the lead to as close as four after a Chuck Champion backdoor layup made it66-62, but that was close as the Greyhounds would get. The Towson defense didn’t allow a single field goal to go down in the final 5:48 of the contest, forcing the Greyhounds offense to a halt. Loyola went 0-8 down the stretch.

“They set the tone in the second half,” Loyola head Coach Tavaras Hardy said, “Thought we did things offensively in the first half that was difficult for them to guard but the second half they were able to get us out of our rhythm. “