ROCKVILLE — The Richard Montgomery Rockets (2-2) capitalized on a strong first half effort to hold off the Magruder Colonels 39-33 Tuesday in the Maryland Elite Summer Basketball League at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School Daniel Pearl Memorial Gymnasium.
Summer league play provides an opportunity for players, especially underclassmen, to fine-tune their skills and step up their game in anticipation of the regular season.
Even though the Rockets took the court against Magruder (0-2) without their starting point guard and a few other key players, center Will Davenport (12 points) and guard Ryan Cornish (13 points) picked up the slack and made sure Richard Montgomery never trailed.
In fact, a scoreless five minutes for Magruder led to a 7-0 Rockets run that haunted the Colonels for the rest of the game.
Magruder’s offensive struggles persisted for the duration of the first half. Players attempted big shots but most of the time the ball missed its mark. The defense certainly wasn’t lacking aggression, however. Forward Ebby Asamoah blocked a pair of shots in midair and boxed out under the basket, denying Richard Montgomery in the paint.
The Magruder defense even forced a shot clock violation after the Rockets passed the ball around but failed to find an open player.
The big shots that eluded the Colonels in the first half began to fall in the second half as three different players landed a trey from behind the arc. Magruder trailed by just seven points when Richard Montgomery committed a costly turnover that turned into a Colonels layup. Guard Travis Crandall drove the length of the court and fed the ball to Chris Asamoah, who finished the play with two more points for Magruder.
Richard Montgomery led by four with just a few seconds left on the clock. Cornish completed two more free throws to seal the deal for the Rockets.
“We just didn’t make baskets. It’s summer; guys are not understanding what a good shot is, how to make teammates better,” said Magruder head coach Tony Giles. “We need to get better at scoring, better at shooting and sharing the basketball.”
Richard Montgomery head coach Azhar Shamsudeen said he’s looking for players who continue to improve and make themselves invaluable to the team, especially now that star player Daryn Alexander graduated and plays for Salisbury University. Most of Shamsudeen’s current players are underclassmen.
“We’re hoping with this younger group that we can find that new guy who’s going to be our leader and floor general and see how we get along without Daryn,” he said. “Last year, any time we were in trouble we went to Daryn. This year we’re using this summer league to try to figure out who can help us.”
Both teams will have two days to prepare before facing the next opponent. The Rockets are set to face Quince Orchard and Magruder will take on Damascus Thursday at JDS.