FREDERICK — A glimmer of hope in the second quarter was not enough for the visiting Rockville Rams varsity boys basketball team, as they lost to the Thomas Johnson Patriots 64-51.
With the win, the Rams are knocked out of the basketball playoffs and the Patriots are crowned 3A West regional champions, now moving to the state semifinals.
From the beginning, Thomas Johnson kept Rockville playing a game of catch up with their strong defensive game and accurate shots.
The Rams’ mistakes proved too much to make up, and foul trouble later in the game cemented their fate. As the fouls racked up for the Patriots, the momentum shifted in favor of the home team and the win kept on eluding Rockville.
The first quarter gave the Rams a taste of what the Patriots could do with their defense, and the Rockville team found it hard to get to the basket as the Patriots kept them at the perimeter.
Physically, the Patriots were on par with the Rams, with the exception of the Rams’ freshman forward Jimmy Sorunke, who at 6-foot-10 towered over everyone else on either team. However, Sorunke’s height, while imposing, could not bolster the Rams to victory.
In the second quarter, where Sorunke was sent to the line five times for seven shots, he only made one. On defense, however, he was adept at rebounding and was hard to beat when driving to the basket.
The second quarter was the highlight of Rockville’s performance, as they finished with a two-point lead going into halftime and outscored Thomas Johnson 16-6.
Rockville junior forward Matt McTighe went on a six-point streak in the second quarter, exposing the holes in the Patriot defense to his advantage and forcing the home team to reconsider their strategy.
“We know when to find each other when each other is hot, and just all-around good job, good effort,” said McTighe.
After halftime, the Patriots came into the third quarter with a bang as they went on a 10-point scoring streak before Rams senior center Joshua DeVille interrupted it with two points of his own.
Thomas Johnson junior point guard Richard Rivas had a muted performance in the first half of the game, but easily became the Patriots’ star player in the second half. By constantly drawing fouls, Rivas forced Rockville to play conservatively, a style of play that the Rams could not adapt to.
“He’s a tough nut. He gets it in and he plays so hard. He was at halftime with a look on his face, he wanted to have a better second half coming out and playing, and so he went right at it,” said Thomas Johnson head coach John Manley.
By the final quarter, the lead was within the Rams’ grasp but a strong Patriot defense held them back, and a last-minute push was not enough for Rockville to claim victory.
With the loss knocking the Rams out of playoff contention, Rockville head coach Todd Dembroski looks to the future with anticipation, as only four seniors are leaving.
“We’re going to miss them, no doubt, but we have a lot of talent coming up from JV and returning from varsity. We fully expect, if we work hard, to be in this game next year,” said Dembroski.