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SILVER SPRING – Jason Miskiri scored 28 points on Sunday to lead the Blair Blazers to a 62-57 victory over Gonzaga in the Legend Coalition at Argyle Middle School.
“It’s good to see the guys still staying in shape,” said the 43-year-old Miskiri. “You only got one body; you got to treat it right. If we’re able to get out here in our 40s and be able to get up and down and boogie a little bit, that says a lot.”
The former Blair High standout, who also starred at Montgomery College and George Mason University, recalled his brief NBA stint two decades ago.
“I was told that I was going to be a late second=round [draft pick],” said Miskiri, who played at Blair with the 1999 NBA Draft’s No. 2 overall selection Steve Francis. “But it didn’t happen that way, but fortunately I was able to go to camps and I was able to make the Charlotte Hornets opening roster.”
Miskiri spent time under the tutelage of then-Charlotte head coach Paul Silas and played alongside point guard Baron Davis, who was the draft’s No. 3 overall selection that year.
“It was good, man, a great experience to be able to make a roster,” added Miskiri. “A lot of people can’t say they did that.”
The Legend Coalition is composed of former Montgomery County student-athletes coming together for a good cause.
“The league gives guys the opportunity to take an important part of their youth and relive it as adults,” said Legend Coalition founder/owner Ricky Goings, a 2005 Wheaton High School graduate. “It’s a unique and fun type of high- school reunion.”
Besides Blair and Wheaton, the Legend Coalition also boasts Richard Montgomery, Gaithersburg, Einstein, Magruder, Seneca Valley, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Paint Branch.
During the Jan. 20 opening session, game winners included Gaithersburg, Einstein, Wheaton, Blair and Paint Branch.
Vernon Buckle scored 18 points in Gaithersburg’s 40-38 victory over Richard Montgomery in Game 1.
In Game 2, Dennis Bassich finished with 18 points, to lead Einstein past Magruder, 57-52, and Craig Taffe erupted for 18 points in Wheaton’s 74-54 victory over Seneca Valley.
“They’re athletic, man,” said Seneca Valley’s Chris Lun. “They’re young, fast. I’m not. That’s a tough team to start against. They get up and down. They crunch the ball. It was tough.”
Lun explained his connection to Wheaton’s players, whom he coached during their days at Parkland Middle School.
“It was fun to see them again,” said Lun, a longtime head coach at Whitman High in Bethesda.
Taffe said it was good to reunite with Seneca Valley’s Antoine Noble, with whom he has a history.
“I’ve been playing against [Antoine] for about a good 15 years now,” said Taffe, who graduated from Wheaton in 2005.
“Most of these guys are younger than me,” said Noble, “but I’ve seen all of them when they were playing in high school, so it was good seeing them again.”
Taffe also reminisced about his days at Wheaton High playing for then-head coach Steve Hood.
“We went to states,” recalled Taffe, who was among the county’s elite during his tenure at Wheaton. “We went 18-6 my last year. We were ranked as high as ninth in the nation, so we did pretty well that last year.”
The Legend Coalition also featured Seneca Valley’s Darren Tibbs, Wheaton’s Baron Bethel and Ricky Marzett and Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Frank Peterson, Sean Tracy and Jon Gregs, along with Paint Branch’s Hosni Ali and Jamaal Wise.
Former Montgomery County standouts such as Richard Montgomery’s Anthony “Gumby” Williams and Tavares Cooper are also featured in the Legend Coalition, along with Einstein’s Kelvin Bright, Magruder’s Johan Matos and Blake’s Dominique Scott.
The Legend Coalition, which runs through March, will also feature playoff games and a championship game scheduled for March 17.
Ali, who graduated from Paint Branch in 2003, scored 24 points in the nightcap to lead the Panthers to a 44-28 victory over Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
“We all came together with one mindset to work together and play hard,” said Ali. “I’m real happy for our guys getting a win. It was a lot of smack talk going on the internet, but actions speak louder than words.”