HYATTSVILLE – Two weeks into the Capitol Hoops Summer League season, two schools at the bottom of the standings faced off as 1-7 Churchill High School met up with 0-7 Blake on June 15.
Churchill dominated for the most part until the middle of the second half when the Bengals began catching up.
However, by the end of the game, they would come up short, as the Bulldogs earned a hardfought 64-61 victory.
“They really came out and trapped us and pressured us, which is good experience for us,” said Churchill Head Coach David Blumenthal. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that are trying to fill some of our roles, some of our four seniors that left.”
The Bulldogs seemed to take good advantage against winless Blake in the first half, as they converted their shots and forced turnovers. Churchill led 20-12 in the middle of the half and sat comfortably at 38-26 at halftime behind 13 points from Jomo Goings.
“Jomo’s been really good,” said Blumenthal. “Since he transferred to us last year, he filled a role for us on the wing that we needed last year, and then this year he’s stepping up his leadership.”
While the Bengals struggled to keep up in the first half, Ray Washington-Battle Jr. was able to keep the pace going as he dropped 14 first half points
First-year Head Coach Desmin Wade hopes to do big things for Blake in the winter, while trying to get his team to win their first Capitol Hoops game this season.
“Amazing opportunity,” said Wade. “Looking to do something special in Montgomery County. Just trying to build these guys, build them as young men, and I think the basketball stuff will take care of itself.”
Midway through the second half, the Bengals finally found their groove when they cut the deficit to 51-48 with six minutes left. Eventually, down 58-57, Blake’s Sani Hetherington hit a free throw to tie the game 58-58. The two squads then traded back-to-back buckets to tie it up at 60-60.
“It’s a good effort,” said Wade. “We sped the game up a little bit, but we’ll be fine. Just a couple 50-50 plays, and we didn’t come out on top, but the guys gave a great effort today.”
However, with under a minute left, Churchill’s Ike Omu-Chiedo hit the go-ahead lay-up to give his team the 62-60 lead. He finished with 11 points.
“Giving Churchill a little edge is something I’ve done before,” said Omu-Chiedo. “Against B-CC, I hit the game winner. Now, giving the edge is something I do for my school. I want us to win.”
“Ike’s hustling and grinding,” said Blumenthal. “He doesn’t necessarily look pretty when you watch him, but you look at the stat sheet, he’s 5-for-6 for 10-12 points, and another eight rebounds, three blocks. He does some things that coaches love.”
Meanwhile, Goings added eight more points in the second half to finish the morning with 21 total points, shooting 8-for-12, along with six rebounds.
“Came over and we played well together,” said Goings. “We made our shots today. It was a way better field goal percentage throughout the summer league. Overall, it was a good game for us.”
According to Omu-Chiedo, playing with a teammate like Goings is “very interesting.”
“He’s an emotional player, “said Omu-Chiedo. “He can get in your skin a little bit, but he’s trying to do his best for the team.”
The Bulldogs are currently playing in two summer leagues: the Capitol Hoops League at DeMatha and the Montgomery County Road Summer League.
The extra competition allows Churchill to see other teams that they would not normall play against during the regular season.
“It’s always fun for these guys to play against the schools they play against,” said Blumenthal, “because they know a lot of the guys, they’re familiar, gives them some bragging rights over the summer, so that’s nice.”
On the losing side, Washington-Battle led the way for the Bengals with 26 points, nailing nine of his 17 shots.
“He’s a fearless player,” said Wade. “He’s always going to give everything he’s got, every possession. Still a young guy, he’ll be a junior next year, so definitely look out for him.”