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.”

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

Baltimore Poly Takes St. John’s Down In Epic Thriller

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

points respectively.

” 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.

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.