HYATTSVILLE — In the 2017-18 season, the Paint Branch Panthers came just one game away from advancing to the state semifinals, and they’ll bring a lot back from that team for next year, headlined by Richard Dudley, who averaged over 20 points per game.
However, despite a strong performance from Dudley, and a lights-out shooting game from teammate Marley Sume, the Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders emerged victorious in what had been a back-and-forth game against the Panthers, the final score 70-56.
Paint Branch fell behind early in the game, but with the effortless scoring of Dudley, the Panthers stayed in the game. Paint Branch went on a 7-0 run, and took a 16-15 lead.
Paint Branch built that lead up before Eleanor Roosevelt, led by 22 first-half points by Isaiah Gross, came back to take a 28-25 lead, and took a 37-33 lead into halftime.
Eleanor Roosevelt remained in control for the rest of the second half, building a comfortable lead as Gross continued to dominate. He finished the game with 31 points.
The Raiders had a big size advantage on Paint Branch, with Jordan Alphonso providing the only size for the Panthers. He provided a few impressive plays in the paint during the game.
Still, even in a loss, Dudley and Sume impressed.
Dudley showed an ability last season to score from anywhere on the floor. He didn’t hit a three-pointer in this game, but drove to the basket very well against a taller Roosevelt front. He finished with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“It was good, I got to the basket, I looked for my teammates,” Dudley said of his game. “A lot of our key guys got in foul trouble, so it was hard for us to rotate players, ‘cause a lot of the players are new players, so we don’t have great chemistry.”
This was Paint Branch’s third game of the summer league, the only games the Panthers have played since being eliminated by Perry Hall in the playoffs. With key players like Bobby Miller and Xavier Reaves leaving, Dudley will be leading a new group of Panthers in the 2018-19 season. The players haven’t yet developed a working chemistry together, as Dudley said, but the Paint Branch team plans to be ready to go by the winter.
Sume was lights out from beyond the three-point arc. In the second half, Sume shot three-for-three from deep, and finished the game with a team-high 19 points. Sume averaged just over six points per game last year, but he is one of the more experienced players Paint Branch brings back. He’ll have a big role.
“It was cool,” Dudley said of finally getting back on the court. “We still got a lot to work on.”