HYATTSVILLE — With the end of the 2017-18 season, the Springbrook Blue Devils lost its two biggest stars, and two of the top scorers in Montgomery County in Matt Balanc and Cam Rucker.
Rucker averaged 19.6 points per game in the 2017-18 season, while Balanc averaged 17.6.
With both graduating, the Blue Devils needed to find a new source of scoring.
In Springbrook’s opening game of the Capitol Hoops Summer League at DeMatha against the Oxon Hill Clippers, the Blue Devils ultimately lost 60-56, but Timitrius Whitney-Hawkins emerged as the next star for Springbrook.
Last season, the Blue Devils guard averaged 10.6 points, just behind Rucker and Balanc, and he is the only returning starter.
“I see myself as a leader of this team,” Whitney-Hawkins said. “I think we could go very far in this summer league, and I could lead this team very long.”
Whitney-Hawkins came out strong in the first half, scoring 13 points in the game’s first 16 minutes. In that time, he made one of three three-point shots, and made six of 10 shots total from the field. In addition, Whitney-Hawkins had two assists, two steals and three rebounds. The next closest scorer on Springbrook in the first half scored three points.
Whitney-Hawkins cooled off in the second half, only scoring four points, as Oxon Hill largely controlled the game. Whitney-Hawkins played all 32 minutes in the game, finishing with 17 points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals. He shot eight of 14 from the field.
“I kind of see myself playing the whole game,” Whitney-Hawkins said. “I know my teammates have my back when I’m tired, and come in and step up.”
The next closest scorer for the Blue Devils, Justin Cook, finished with eight points.
Springbrook had control early on in the game, before Oxon Hill began to take control late in the first half.
Oxon Hill played at a much faster pace, blowing past the Blue Devils. In the first half, Oxon Hill had 10 steals compared to four for Springbrook, and 14 fast-break points compared to four for Springbrook.
Ronald Polite led all scorers for the Clippers with 20 points, while Kalonji Parker had 16.
It was the same story in the second half. Springbrook kept the game close, even after it looked like Oxon Hill had pulled away. In the game’s final minute, the Blue Devils didn’t go away quietly, fighting back to come within one possession, but it wouldn’t be enough, as Oxon Hill held on 60-56.
“We executed real well,” Whitney-Hawkins said. “But we have to execute and be better next time out.”
This game was the first Springbrook had played since losing to Paint Branch in the playoffs, ending their season. Whitney-Hawkins had showed flashes of his talent behind Rucker and Balanc last season, but this opening game of summer league play gave Whitney-Hawkins his first chance to lead. He showed an ability to do it all, scoring from all over the floor, crashing the boards on both ends and making the right pass. Whitney-Hawkins did say, however, that he thought his defense could get better.
Oxon Hill improved to 1-0 in the league with the win, while Springbrook fell to 0-1.