Roosevelt Finishes The Job

COLLEGE PARK – Eleanor Roosevelt High junior forward Jahmal Cochran grabbed a rebound following an East Broadneck High School senior Jaamar Young miss and when he threaded a bounce to streaking senior Cameron Brown in transition who posterized Broadneck forward Logan Vican and send Roosevelt fans into a frenzy.

” I just wanted to run the floor and (Cochran) gave me a nice pass,” Brown said,  “After that I just do what i usually and go to the rim.”

Roosevelt captured their third state 4A title in this decade and fourth overall with their 77-48 win over East Broadneck High School Saturday night. The Raiders had multiple outstanding perfromances from their senior quartet of Cameron Brown (25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals double-double), Jaamir Butler (13 points and four steals), Isaiah Gross (10 points) and Kyle Rose (Six points, 10 assists, six steals) to junior guard Jahari Simon scoring 12 points. Meanwhile, the Bruins were led senior Jamar Young and his 22 points and eight rebound stat-line.

” I’m just super excited, i’m super proud of these guys” Roosevelt head coach Brendan O’Connell said, ” They’ve been one of the most fun teams to coach all year long. So happy for these seniors because they’ve been such a big part of what we’ve been doing for the last four years. They deserve it.”

The way the game started out, it seemed like Broadneck and Roose were in for a dogfight. At one point early in the first half the Bruins knocked down three 3-pointers in a row, leading the Roose 16-9, their largest lead of the night. Roose would respond and dominate from the second quarter on when they hold the hot-shooting Broadneck to just 27 points the rest of the way. On the other hand, the Raiders blew the game open scoring 27 themselves in the second quarter and establishing a lead that was never threatened.

“We’ve been doing that all year,” O’Connell said, ” We’re extremely hard to guard because we just got a lot of skill on offense.”

Roosevelt took a one-possession lead midway in the first half when Gross nailed a heavily contested 3-pointer. Things got out of control in the second half with the Raider unleashed a 21-0 run, including a no-look scoop pass from Rose to Cochran and then a Rose alley-oop to Brown to bring Xfinity Center a frenzy. From there the state title was only a formality. At the end of the game, the Roosevelt defense, utilizing their elite athleticism, embracing physicality, and length led to the Raiders scoring 26 points on 14 forced turnovers, scoring 16 points in transition, and scoring 28 points in the paint.

” You don’t get touches on the defensive end ,” Gross said, ” So you just impact the game on the defensive end and I’m glad that my defensive ability led to this win.”

Post-game, a question was raised about whether or not this Roosevelt team was the greatest after going 24-3, including going undefeated against PG county opponents. O’Connell said he would need a few days to consider the question, but Isaiah Gross just a few seats down confidently shook his head yes, demonstrably stacking the other teams against his and putting his on top.

” Just coming in here and ending the year off on a high note was really great to me,” Gross said, ” You can’t ask for anything better.”

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.”

Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

WASHINGTON D.C. – After coming up short in the 2018 Washington Catholics Athletic Conference championship,Gonzaga College High School junior Terrance William and senior Anwar Gill told their teammates and head coach Steve Turner all season that they’ll be back to make up for that letdown.

“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.”

Warriors Pursuit of Regular Season Greatness Led to Finals Collapse

The Golden State Warriors were transcendent all season long. They started the regular season off with a bang, winning 24 consecutive games, and rumbled on to a 73-9 regular season record. It seemed that this team didn’t flex their collective greatness unless they had. There were numerous times when teams like the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Oklahoma City Thunder each had the Warriors on the ropes. The only thing that these teams were missing was someone like Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. It only took one defensive stop or a turnover and they would go off on one of their explosive runs and miraculously win games they had no right to win. That’s what happens when you have two great players on a great team, you win games on your worse days. Having the first unanimous MVP, the runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year, and several two-way players that can also score and take games over are also key ingredients to amassing the greatest regular season in NBA History.

The Warriors entered the playoffs as the clear favorite. In the first round they faced the Houston Rockets. It was a conference finals rematch from the season prior. Everything was going great in Game 1, until Curry twisted his ankle. Which just so happens to be the same ankle he had surgery on back in 2011. When he made his return 3 games later the unimaginable happened and he sprained his right knee. Now, not only is the Warriors organization panicking, but the Warriors fan base and the NBA as a whole. Not to worry though, as we all know by now, Curry made his triumphant return in late in the second round against the Portland Trail Blazers. In the Conference Finals was where Curry and the Warriors truly struggled, where they faced the Thunder, who were coming a great playoff series win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors initially struggled against the Thunders massive length and elite athleticism and dug themselves into a 3-1 hole, creating more questions and rumors. Questions and rumors surrounding the health of MVP Stephen Curry due to his struggles. Draymond Green was even getting into trouble accumulating flagrant fouls points after kicking Steven Adams in the groin and playing a very physical series against the Thunder big men. The Warriors luckily completed a seemingly impossible task and came back against the Thunder thanks to their elite shooting. Although the Thunder was clearly the better team in the series, the Warriors were able to shoot themselves out of their hole and make it to their second straight NBA Finals.

In the NBA Finals we got another rematch, the Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Golden State Warriors. The first three games were complete blowouts, the Warriors taking a 2-1 series advantage. The Warriors looked stronger than ever, until catastrophe struck. First Draymond Green inadvertently hit LeBron James in the groin and they got into a heated conversation due to James attempting to step over him during play. This resulted in Green drawing a flagrant foul point, which was the last flagrant foul he could get without getting punished with a 1 game suspension. Secondly Andrew Bogut, the Warriors best rim-protector, went down with a season ending sprained knee. Despite winning the game the Warriors entered Game 5 with a lot of questions. Without their fiery leader game 5 and their rim protector for the rest of the series, the Warriors suffered an epic collapse that resulted in the Cavs becoming the first team in NBA Finals history to successfully come back from a 3-1 series deficit.

What was it that led to possibly the greatest collapse in NBA Finals history? The accumulation of fatigue, emotional and physical is what most likely did. At least that’s what most pundits and fans believe. It makes the most sense, too, as the Warriors most serious mistake ended up with them failing to defend their title. All season long the team claimed they didn’t care about beating the 95-96 Chicago Bulls’ regular season title, but clearly they did. That pursuit of the title of being the greatest regular season resulted in them clearly being on their last legs in the playoffs, running on fumes and feeling the fatigue and frustration of an incredibly taxing season and playoffs. It’s why Stephen Curry hurt his knee and ankle, noticeably showing the signs of those injuries in the Conference Finals and Finals. It was the reason Andre Bogut’s legged buckled on him and the big men went down with a knee injury, and why Andre Iguodala battled a back injury the last two games of the series. A word to the wise, and any team seeking regular season infamy, IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Look at these Golden State Warriors as proof that the regular season truly means nothing in the long term.

Can Steph Curry Solve His Shooting Woes?

Ever since Stephen Curry sprained his right knee in the first round of playoffs against the Houston Rockets, he hasn’t been his usual dynamic self. He’s struggled with turnovers, efficiency, and a noticeably slower first step. As recently as Monday, there were multiple reports stating that Curry now has shoulder and knee issues that may even require surgery. If all this is true then it would make sense of why the back-to-back MVP has failed to make a significant impact in the playoffs. In the 14 games that Curry has played since his knee injury, he’s averaged  26.7 points on an inefficient(for Curry) 43% shooting and 37% 3 point clip.

For a player that became the newest member of the vaunted 50-40-90 club, that’s just unacceptable. Of course as an athlete and competitor, Curry won’t go out to the media and make an excuse that his injuries are the reason why he’s played so poorly, it just isn’t in his DNA. It certainly doesn’t help ward off all the hate that has been thrown his way either. All throughout the season, NBA legends such as Oscar Robertson, Scottie Pippen, and Charles Barkley have all gone on record saying that their teams could beat the Warriors, that Steph Curry wouldn’t be as great in their era, that Curry and Warriors are even “soft.”  If Curry fails to win the NBA Finals MVP again, pundits may even have the gall to question his importance to their playoff success. That award might even go to Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala so far as they have had a far better impact on the Finals. Of course only  way to solve this unadulterated contempt for greatness is to just win. All the pressure is on the Baby-Faced Assassin to win one more game, and to cement this team legacy as not only having the best regular season of all time, but also back to back champions. Something, that no matter what anyone else believes, puts them on the short list of all-time greatest teams in NBA history.

Have The Thunder Finally Exercised Their Demons?

The main story-lines defining the Oklahoma City Thunder going into playoffs was the 14 blown 4th quarter leads, mediocre coaching, and of course the impending free agency of former MVP Kevin Durant. However the Thunder have somehow been able to reverse these trends, starting with their second round series against the San Antonio Spurs. Game 4 of the series was when things started to materialize, despite the struggles Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant faced earlier in the game. It was in the 2nd half, Billy Donovan started to put Kevin Durant in easier scoring situations, as well as using a “twin towers” lineup with Enes Kanter and Steven Adams that not only helped offensively but also defensively. Kevin Durant ended up scoring 29 point in the 2nd half, and 17 in the 4th quarter, while Steven Adams himself dominated his match-up against Tim Duncan, this was actually not only the first time Tim Duncan failed to score in a playoff game but he also didn’t play in the 4th quarter. This was the game that they were able to not only come back from a 4 point deficit, but behind KD, Dion Waiters, and even Enes Kanter they took and protected their lead. To top it all off the Thunder only allowed the Spurs to score 16 points 4th quarter, while they scored 34. In Game 5 it was a role change as we saw Russell Westbrook dominate the second half scoring 21 points of his 35 final points. The game was a defensive battle throughout, the Thunder dug in and allowed the Spurs little leeway for mistakes on both ends. Thanks to the Thunder length and athleticism the Spurs only shoot 39.8 percent on the night, as well as winning rebounding battle 54-36. The Spurs also struggled in the 4th quarter, shooting 6-21 in the final frame as the Thunder shot 10-18 on their end. In Game 6 the game started out well initially for the Spurs,  as they a 16-10 lead at one point but the slim lead didn’t last. The Thunder inserted their defensive will, as the Spurs bench and key players like Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard shrunk away from the monumental moment. The Thunder went on a 17-2 run in the second quarter and entered the second half with a 23 point cushion. Of course the Spurs would go on a 20-6 run to shrink the lead down after being down by as much as 28. They eventually trimmed the lead down to 11 but that was as close as they would get as Russell Westbrook hit a 3 to end any hopes the Spurs had.

In Game 1 of the Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors,(who by the way beat this same Thunder team 3 teams) proved to be up to the hype it gathered pre game. In the first half the Warriors were great, sustaining their two-way greatness by following their patent of creating turnovers and hot shooting from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Although there was a double digit the OKC Thunder were able to survive the onslaughts that so often demoralize teams. They began the 2nd half with a 13 point but the Thunder came out with a new resolve.  Billy Donovan made some quick halftime adjustment which allowed the Thunder to hold the Warriors to 42 points in the 2nd half. In addition to the lack of turnovers, Billy Donovan also played Enes Kanter and Steven Adams together, although having the two big men in at the same time didn’t help the offensive spacing, the duo was more than able to hold their own on the boards and defense. Other role players like Dion Waiters and Andre Roberson played a key role in holding the Warriors to their lowest 2nd half of output of the season. The most important detail about the 3rd quarter is the huge 19 point explosion Russell Westbrook had to help the Thunder get back into the game. Kevin Durant despite his own struggles hit a huge jumper at the top of free throw line with 30.7 seconds left at the game. The Thunder were able to extend their defensive dominance of the 4th quarter and held the Warriors to 14 points.Them being able to force such bad looks and bad decisions from the Warriors was the key reason as to why the pulled away with a confidence boosting win.

Although it was just Game 1 this result of this win will go a long way in helping the OKC Thunder gain more confidence in themselves and Kevin Durant possibly signing another contract with the only team he’s known in his professional career. Stay tuned here to get more anaylsis of the Western Conference Finals as well as the Eastern Conference Finals