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.

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.”

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.”

https://twitter.com/_bwarren/status/1092131213396135936?s=21

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.

https://twitter.com/_bwarren/status/1092157977463848960?s=21

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.

https://twitter.com/_bwarren/status/1092158352141049860?s=21

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

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

NBA 2016-2017 Season Eastern Conference Preview & Predictions

The NBA season is right around the corner, starting off with the Knicks v.s Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Per usual the Cleveland Cavaliers are of course the favorites to come out the conference for the 3rd year in a row. The Cavaliers lost key players when Timofey Mozgov and  Matthew Dellavedova, but were order to retain indispensable players  LeBron James as well as J.R. Smith As for the rest of the Conference there was major losses and additions across the board. We saw longtime franchise stars like Dwyane Wade and Al Horford leaving for the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics respectively. With the sudden influx of money players like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, and Andre Drummond benefitted the most and signed big money contracts to stay with their franchises. After preseason study and research it’s time to roll the red carpet for my predictions for this new NBA season.

The Playoff Teams:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers:

After a long and needed offseason the reigning NBA champions haven’t changed much. They offset the losses of Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov by adding Kay Felder in the draft and signing  Chris “Birdman” Anderson as well as Mike Dunleavey to add perimeter shooting. Resigning LeBron James, J.R. Smith, and Richard Jefferson was of course the main and completed priority. With their same starting 5 and an improved supporting cast the Cavs will look to run the table once again and return to the NBA Finals. w

2. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are coming off a franchise best season and didn’t lose a lot of production when playoff darling Bismack Biyombo left for the Orlando Magic in free agency. Dwane Casey will continue to lean on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as well as giving an eager Jonas Valanciunas plenty of touches in the paint as an underrated third scoring option. Along with a improved bench and shooting the Raptors are being slept on as one of the better and balanced in the NBA. Look for the franchise north of the border to repeat or improve on last seasons success.

3.  Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics had an interesting offseason. Despite losing Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger in the offseason, and not being able to capitalize on their plethora of draft picks, they were still able to sign All-Star big man Al Horford and get thrust into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Add Brad Stevens with the developing youth and veteran leadership this proud franchise has signed over the past couple offseasons and this is a team with the potential to be  Top 10 defense and offense this season.  

4. Indiana Pacers

This is officially Paul George’s team. Larry Bird has signed and traded for players that will help this offense into the modern era. Instead of George Hill and Lance Stephenson, the backcourt is occupied by Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis. Myles Turner has replaced Roy Hibbert at the center. And while Paul George has kept his spot at small forward, the power forward spot is now owned by Thaddeus Young. Gone are the gritty and defensive teams from the Conference Finals teams. Team President Larry Bird has gifted Paul George the talent that best suits his unique skill set, what happens next is up to Paul George.

5. Miami Heat

Gone are Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Luol Deng. Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic usher in a new era for this Heat franchise. The biggest x-factor for this team will be who fills in at the small forward and shooting guard spot. Dion Waiters was signed in Wayne Ellington, along with Josh Richardson  and Tyler Johnson should make for an interesting rotation at the 2-gaurd spot. At the small forward Heat fans will be waiting to see how much Justise Winslow has improved over the summer. If he can find his 3 point stroke and continue to play strong defense then he has potential to be one of the stronger 3-D wings in the league. Hassan Whiteside finally his contract and from what Heat fans have seen from him so far in preseason action he has improved his post offense and has quit hunting blocked shots so often, instead choosing to alter shots or force contested layups.

6. Detroit Pistons

Like Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond got his big contract this past offseason, and the Detroit Pistons along with their infusion of young talent have the potential to do some damage during the regular season and playoffs. The Pistons will have Tobias Harris who has always been a strong scorer at the small forward spot. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to take another step forward in his progression as a 3-D wing. Stanley Johnson will also be expected to take another step and expand his skill set after a good rookie season. The main thing to watch will be how Reggie Jackson performs when he comes back from his knee injury. Last season he found his niche as a pick and roll maestro and picked his spots well as a scorer. At this point we know what we will get out of the face of the franchise in Drummond. Defense, and plenty of buckets out of the pick and roll. This seasons success hangs on how he lives up to his massive contract and if has solved his free throw woes. 

7. Washington Wizards

Last season was filled with mediocrity and frequent for the Wizards. A season filled with hope after coming just a millisecond away from forcing a Game 7 was wasted due to bad luck and even worse coaching. During the offseason, NeNe walked away, but the Wizards added Andrew Nicholson, Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and traded for Trey Burke. They also brought Tomas Satoransky stateside, and someone who jumps out the gym and should be a terror in transition with John Wall. After an offseason where dissent was rumoured between Bradley Beal and John Wall, these backcourt partners must lead this team to the playoffs success in order to alleviate any imagined beef between the two. If the two most important players for this franchise are unable to harmonize the Wizards must consider blowing the team up.

8. Chicago Bulls

 This has got to be the one the oddly put-together teams in the League today. The original plan was to allow the team to rebuild around Jimmy Butler and surround him with the right talent. Instead they signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The Bulls won’t have to much shooting on the court. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic are expected to be rotation guys and Mike Dunleavy is no longer around to help spread the court. Taj Gibson may even be on his way out the door. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a miracle with their strange team but anything

Just Missed the Cut

New York Knicks

The Knicks added some pieces in Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, and Brandon Jennings. It’s going to be interesting to see how they mesh with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. The big if is the health of Rose and Noah. Last season Rose did play 66 games and (knock on wood) his health seems to be trending in the right direction. On the other spectrum Noah seems like a shell of his fiery self, perhaps a product of the heavy minutes he played under former coach Tom Thibodeau.  Phil Jackson is stuck in his ways with the Triangle offense and it’s unlikely that he won’t butt his head and try to force Jeff Hornacek to run his antique offense. It’s easier to see this team underachieving and just winning 40 games.

Charlotte Hornets  

Kemba Walker had a career year last season. He finally discovered his shooting stroke, and he had a supporting cast that fit his game. Nicolas Batum was the perfect fit next to him as another playmaker and ball handler. Al Jefferson was the big man down low that could take the scoring load is Walker was off. And a collection of wing players like Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams, and PJ Hairston filled in to replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after he went down with an injury just 7 games into the season. Jeremy Lin played a great role as 6th man off the bench and did a great job running the offense with the rest of the Hornets bench players. Unfortunately they lost Lee, Lin, and Jefferson and it will be hard to replace their production. The playoffs may be a taller task than they anticipate.

Atlanta Hawks

Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard will make for one of the most dangerous pick and roll duos in the NBA, but how long will it take till Howard starts demanding for his touches in the post instead of running the play that is guaranteed success when he runs it successfully. This team has enough talent, athleticism, and shooting but the ability of Schroder to scale back turnovers and his erratic shooting and the drama that comes with Dwight Howard playing for you may set this team back an unexpected step.

The Rest

Philadelphia 76ers:

Do you even have to ask?

Milwaukee Bucks:

Plenty of length and defense but what about shooting? What do we expect out of the Giannis Antetokounmpo in his first full season as the starting point guard. Can Jabari Parker live up to his potential as a scorer extraordinaire? Can Khris Middleton come back from his injury and torch the nets as the Bucks sharpshooter? As of right now there’s just too many questions and not enough answers.

Brooklyn Nets:

They shot themselves in the foot trading away all their draft picks in earlier offseason. At least they’ll be watchable. Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should make an interesting trio.

Orlando Magic

Should make for a fun team to watch for transition buckets, Aaron Gordon will be lighting up rims with his thunderous dunks and that should be about the only bright spot for this franchise.