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.

Paint Branch Holds Off Churchill IN Double-Digit Win

Potomac ~ Despite holding such a commanding lead from the second quarter on, Paint Branch head coach Chris Bohlen still used every moment down to the last second as a teachable moment for his young Panthers squad. Knowing just what to say to each player and then giving them a love tap on the head at the end of every piece or coaching moment.

“Each team is a chemistry experiment every year,” Coach Bohlen said, “So it’s always fun a as a coach every year to try and find out what buttons to push, and who needs what.

Paint Branch held on for a 80-64 victory over Churchill. The win helps the Panthers move on to a 9-2 record, while the Bulldogs are now 6-3. Paint Branch relied on their multitude of scorers, placing five players in double-figures. They were led by Richard Dudley and Myles Mosley who each scored 14-points, Marley Sume contributing 12-points, rounded out by Anthony Wright and Juan Bell scoring 11-points as well. The Bulldogs were led by David Orta and his 26- points performance, followed by Jomo Goings’ 12-points.

A decisive second quarter run gave Paint Branch a lead that would grow as large as 24-points in the second half. The Panthers went on a tear offensively, outgunning the Bulldogs on an 18-0 run that was punctuated by a Dudley up-and-under layup off a ally-oop feed from Juan Bell. Churchill was able to stop the bleeding when Nadav Stern nailed a free-throw line jumper, but the damage done was extensive enough with the Panthers leading 47-23 at the end of the half after a Mishi Etauful layup to beat the buzzer that sent his teammates into a frenzy.

“It turns your team up (with) plays like that,” Dudley said, “Just threes, steals, and we try to continue that.”

Before the second half began, Bohlen implored his boys to enjoy the game and express themselves more on the court with their big-lead. It may have led to his Panthers squad taking their feet off the pedal instead. It led to Churchill giving their adversaries a lesson and a scare. The Bulldogs gradually whittled the lead down and cut the deficit to as close as 11-points after a Orta 3-pointer made it 71-60 midway in the final frame. Coach Bohlen decoded not to call a timeout, and let Dudley close the game out on his terms. The senior guard had a hand in scoring or assisting on seven of final nine Panther points being scored. He dished a pair of dimes, first to Mosley for a corner 3-ball, then  Etauful for a nifty layup, and finally sunk a layup to finished off the game at 80-68.

“We played (well) as a team,” Dudley said, “We just have to tie something’s up on the defensive end.”