By Will Birks
Special to The Sentinel
ROCKVILLE – On Friday night, the Richard Montgomery Rockets defeated the Gaithersburg Trojans 70-65 at Richard Montgomery High School, overcoming a nine-point deficit.
Richard Montgomery Head Coach David Breslaw said he believes his team did well and “They didn’t give up.”
“We were down nine late, and they just didn’t give up,” Breslaw said.
Early in the fourth quarter, Gaithersburg looked poised to close out the game, taking a nine-point lead with around seven minutes to go. Behind their senior forward Miles Gally, the Rockets were able to slowly chip away at the lead and eventually get it down to within three points with four minutes remaining in the game.
With the crowd getting into it, senior forward Djordje Orcev sunk a deep three to tie the game up, causing the crowd to erupt. However, a costly turnover by the Trojans led to sophomore guard Ryan Cornish running the fast break to finish with a critical layup by taking the lead for the first time since the beginning of the third quarter. The Rockets never gave up the lead from that point on as Gaithersburg stalled on offense and held on for the win.
“We were able to stay focused as a team because we came out and got shocked a little bit, but we were able to adjust and come back,” Orcev said.
Gaithersburg had a huge second half offensively, because of star sophomore guard Jao Ituka who scored 16 points, getting past the Richard Montgomery zone defense and continually made plays both on the perimeter and in the paint. Stepping up from a quiet second half was sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins, who led the Trojans in the first half with 15 points.
Because of the Rockets’ ability to stop Ituka and Hawkins late in the game, they were able to come away with the victory.
“They are both great players…so it was tough, but we had to lock in and we had a lot of help defense and great team play,” said Orcev.
Despite the second half, which was almost completely dominated by the Trojans until the very end, the first half was dominated by the Rockets. Cornish was doing everything for Richard Montgomery, despite the Gaithersburg setting the tone against a tenacious press defense. He was able to take the ball up the court with ease and continually made plays down the stretch.
Throughout the first half, Orcev and Hawkins were going back and forth on offense, each making play after play. Hawkins was forced to take over the game for his team, as Ituka did not play most of the second quarter.
The Rockets’ main three players Cornish, Orcev and Gally led the way, scoring 56 of their team’s 70 points with Cornish and Gally each scoring 21. For the Trojans, Hawkins and Ituka carried their team, with Ituka leading the way dropping 26 points, while Hawkins poured in 21 points.
The Trojans lost their first game of the season and drop to 8-1 overall.