ROCKVILLE — The shots sailed through the net as if in slow motion.
The sight of Magruder Colonels forward Ebby Asamoah, tongue out, taking aim from behind the arc and sinking trey after trey haunted the Quince Orchard Cougars Monday in their final regular season game in the Maryland Elite Summer Basketball League.
Asamoah’s hot hand generated 21 points and led the Colonels to a 49-40 win in a game that saw the Cougars come close but ultimately fail to overtake Magruder.
The Colonels opened the game with an unanswered seven-point scoring run and soon the Cougars found themselves in a 12-2 rut early in the first half.
“We just had to get defensive stops and hustle harder on defense,” said Quince Orchard forward Cameron Garrett. “We’re capable of beating any team; we just have to hustle harder.”
Garrett upped his defensive pressure under the boards as he grabbed rebounds and drove down the court en route to eight points on the evening.
Meanwhile, Magruder guard Travis Crandall made sure the Cougars felt his presence right before the half when he clawed his way through Quince Orchard defenders for a layup at the buzzer.
This time, it was Magruder’s turn to go scoreless to start the half as the Cougars picked up the offensive pace.
However, that offensive pressure was short-lived as Asamoah forced a Quince Orchard turnover and then denied a shot under the basket.
Quince Orchard’s mistakes resulted in fouls or Magruder points as the game progressed. Asamoah followed up a turnover with a three-point bucket and then an emphatic dunk to extend the Colonels’ lead to 10 with just under three minutes to play.
“My style of game fits perfectly with the Magruder style of game. What we do is we throw the extra pass, we do all the extra stuff, we get ball movement and that’s what allows open threes,” said Asamoah.
The Colonels improved to 6-3 with Monday’s victory and are currently tied for third place with Springbrook before the start of the playoffs on Wednesday. However, the final seeding will be determined after the outcome of Tuesday’s games featuring Magruder against Clarksburg and Springbrook against winless Watkins Mill.
“Man, I’m excited. The whole team is looking good,” said Asamoah about his team’s playoff chances. “Everyone is hitting shots and the ball movement is looking good. I hope we can go all the way.”
Meanwhile, the Cougars dropped to eleventh place with a 4-6 record before the postseason.
“I feel that [in the playoffs] we need to come out with more intensity,” said Quince Orchard guard Alex Raines. “Tonight we came out a little slow. We were just off.”