ROCKVILLE – About two minutes and five points was what it took for the Rockville Rams to seal their win (55-48) against the Blake Bengals on Jan. 28 in heartbreaking fashion.
Until the fatal five-point streak, the game was anyone’s to claim. The widest margin was a nine-point difference in the second quarter that quickly dissipated: most of the match saw both teams trade the lead and when either team was behind, it was not by much.
Both teams had their work cut out for them as they tried to get past each other. Senior center Jimmy Sorunke, the tallest player on either team and possibly, the entire gymnasium, at nearly seven feet tall was a defensive threat that blocked shots with ease and abundance.
“Defensively, he’s definitely the anchor of our defense. Defends the paint very well, blocks shots, chains shots,” said Rams Head Coach Todd Dembroski.
But while Sorunke’s defensive form was excellent, he struggled offensively: missed layups and foul trouble plagued him early in the game, giving the Bengals plenty of scoring opportunities. The shots he missed could have made a difference, but instead, they gave way to costly turnovers.
The Bengals led after going on an eight-point run until the end of the first quarter to finish it 11-8. Sorunke’s missed layups could have salvaged the Rams’ performance, but they were close enough behind to keep the stress at a minimum.
Shooting issues persisted for the Rams in the second quarter, while the Bengals could not get past the Rams’ defense sufficiently to make a noticeable difference. Both teams scored eight points apiece, and the Bengals headed into halftime with a three-point lead.
The Rams’ Coreset clearly had a corps of players bore the labor of scoring. Four players scored double digits: senior guard Rajuan Stevens (14 points), junior forward Jailen Anderson (10 points), Sorunke (12 points) and senior guard Je’Shaud Armwood (11 points), while Bengals’ senior guard Dorian Hurd II finished with 12 points.
“When you got a six-foot-ten dude in the middle, it’s hard to penetrate, it’s hard to get extra rebounds,” said Bengals Head Coach Dondrell Whitmore, referring to the challenge of scoring while Sorunke was on the court.
Armwood’s six points after halftime helped push the Rams to tie up the third quarter while senior guard Tarnue Sawo Jr.’s seven points for Blake helped maintain the stalemate. Sawo scored his points only in the third quarter, but his impact and elusive play style helped the Bengals stay competitive.
More of the same tit-for-tat went on in the fourth quarter, but it was a three-pointer by senior forward Matt McTighe that catalyzed the Rams’ victory. McTighe’s shot gave the Rams a two-point lead very late in the game, and a Sorunke score made it a four-point lead.
Hurd scored to cut the lead down to two, but the Rams responded with three foul shots and a Stevens bucket to end the game.
“Blake is one of the strongest schools in our division. We always go back and forth. We lose, we win against them. We just needed a win against them, and we wanted it more than them,” said Sorunke.