By Eva Paspalis @EvaPaspalis
ROCKVILLE — The undefeated Magruder boys varsity basketball team improved to 3-0 Friday when the Colonels hosted and defeated the 1-2 Sherwood Warriors, 60-47.
After a close first quarter, Magruder upped the defensive pressure and seniors Ebby Asamoah and Malik Abudu turned up the offensive heat to pull away from the Warriors. Asamoah led all scorers with 20 points and finished with 18 rebounds, while Abudu registered 14 points.
The close game started to get out of hand for Sherwood halfway through the second quarter. Warriors guard Evan Long landed a trey that put his team back in front. A few seconds later, Magruder freshman Bankeys Omari answered with a jumper that erased Sherwood’s short-lived lead and the Colonels never trailed again for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, Abudu displayed his ball-handling skills as he switched hands midair en route to another layup. The senior, who hadn’t scored a single bucket in the first quarter, ran roughshod through the Sherwood defense and amassed eight points in the second period alone.
The staunch Magruder defense was on full display in the third quarter as the Colonels held Sherwood to just seven points, five of them from the free-throw line. However, Sherwood junior guard Nate Lacey made sure the Colonels felt his presence. Lacey leaped into the air and denied Omari’s shot underneath the basket. In addition to his defensive contributions, Lacey earned a team-high 14 points.
Magruder was nursing an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter when Colonels head coach Dan Harwood gathered the team together and reminded his players about one thing: defense.
“Tonight we didn’t shoot well, we were 21 for 58 and we had a dry spell in the third period but our defense kept the lead,” said Harwood. “A lot of times we weren’t shooting well and [Sherwood] went to a zone; we missed some shots and turned it over. We’re still growing but our defensive effort and intensity stayed there the whole time. We were able to play through our dry spell.”
The reminder to focus on defense worked. Lacey was the only Sherwood player who was able to burst loose through the Magruder defense and hit a bucket in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Abudu continued showcasing his skills and landed a layup behind his back that brought the Magruder student section and the Colonels on the bench to their feet. Asamoah slammed down an emphatic dunk right in front of Long and the student section responded accordingly, shouting and chanting at Asamoah.
In the end, Magruder’s lead was too much for the Warriors to overcome. However, new Sherwood head coach Tom Sheahin appeared optimistic about his team’s performance for the rest of the season. Sheahin, a Montgomery County product, played basketball at Seneca Valley and later coached both at his alma mater and at Gaithersburg.
“Montgomery County basketball has gotten a lot better, so every game is one we want to win. This one was a great atmosphere and we told our guys this is a playoff atmosphere and we wanted to learn from it,” said Sheahin. “Guys are still learning how to play together; they’re learning a new system, a new coach and new roles. It’s going to take a while but I’m very confident that we’re going to be successful.”
Next up, Magruder is set to host the undefeated Churchill Bulldogs next Tuesday, while Sherwood will travel to face the Wootton Patriots.