KENSINGTON – The weather outside was not so frightful, but the basketball was delightful as the Sherwood boys (5-2) clipped Bladensburg (5-1) 69-64 in the finals of the Brad Pinchback Holiday Tournament at Albert Einstein High School.
With the Warriors holding a 65- 64 lead with nine seconds left, the Mustangs oddly suffered due to a lack of fouls, having committed three team fouls in the second half.
They needed four more to stop the clock by sending the Warriors to the line. That eventually resulted in the third inbounds for Warriors senior guard Davis Long (17 points) to slip past the Mustangs defense for an easy lay-up with four seconds left.
The Mustangs stepped on the out-of-bounds line on the ensuing possession, evaporating any chance at a desperation heave. Sherwood scored the final two at the buzzer.
“I am sure that throughout the game, they were happy to not have a lot of fouls call against them but to get to that moment and need to put us on the line it really hurt them,” said Warriors Head Coach Timothy Gilchrist.
The plays of the game came a minute earlier, with the game 60-59 Warriors.
Warriors senior guard Josh Seils (15 points) hit a 3-pointer to make the score, 63-59. Saying this is one of the biggest plays of his high school career, he explained, “It was a transition play, (junior forward) Donovan (Lacey) (17 points) got in the corner and swung it to me and I just knocked it down.”
Moments later, with the score 63-61 Warriors, burly Warriors senior forward Kevin Russell (10 points), a less-used offensive threat, broke free and drove for an easy bucket extended the lead to 65-61.
“I was running down the court, and he bumped me so I bumped him back. And he just fell to the floor for some reason, so I don’t know, so I just ran down to the hoop, and my teammate found me and I was able to finish the open basket,” said Russell.
The two unsung heroes of the game drew praise from Gilchrist.
“(Josh is) asked to do a lot. He guards the other team’s best offensive player,” said Gilchrist. “He handles the ball a lot of the time. He’s just cool, calm, collected. He’s playing baseball at Towson next year, so he’s just an all-around athlete. He desires to be the best at anything he tries. He’s just a tireless worker and (I have) nothing but the most respect for him and I’m proud of him.”
Gilchrist said Russell didn’t play much during his junior year but the football player worked hard and gradually improved in basketball.
“The first two games, he started were this tournament, and off the bench we’ve just seen his offensive game grow and really be a good contributor to the team. He finds a way to get open in those pivot situations,” he said.
“I was really happy,” said Russell on the evening and the tournament. “They’re (Mustangs) ranked by the Post. We’re not ranked at all, so to just show what we can do is special.”
The Mustangs could not overcome the once eight-point lead of the Warriors.
The Warriors, with a barrage of threes to end the first half, cut a 10- point lead to three points. Sherwood’s best stretch of play was the start of the second half as they went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by two 3- pointers by Lacey (17 points) and a three by Long to go up, 56-48.
Even though the Mustangs attempted to come back with the domineering play of junior forward Daniel Oladapo (17 points) and junior guard Sherwyn Devonish (13 points), the Mustangs just did not have enough on this night, especially because of 13 missed foul shots on 24 attempts.
As for playing during the holidays, Mustangs head coach Antonio Williams thought this was a good learning experience for his team. “The kids get a chance for some of the parents who can’t get a chance to see them throughout the season.”
Gilchrist explained that whether it’s a holiday tournament or a playoff game, his team prides itself on its “100 percent intensity at all times.”
The Mustangs’ Oladapo and Devonish won awards as did the Warriors’ Seils. Long received the overall MVP for the two-day affair.
In the first-round games, Sherwood beat host Einstein, 58-51, and Bladensburg beat Richard Montgomery, 67-62.