HYATTSVILLE — The DMV Live Period basketball showcase for the week of June 21-23 took place at DeMatha Catholic High School, with many private school basketball teams in the area demonstrating their skills on the court in front of various college coaches.
One of the games on June 22 featured Georgetown Prep taking on Leonardtown-based St. Mary’s Ryken in a close contest in the first half, but the Little Hoyas fought through in the second for the 74-71 victory.
“I mean, it’s the part of the summer where we should be getting better,” said Georgetown Prep Head Coach Howard Blue. “Guys have been developing all summer long. We haven’t had a full change, so we’ve had some young guys get some experience this summer, and we’ve taken a lot of close losses, so it shows that we’ve had some growth in the last four weeks.”
One positive for the Knights was that they were able to force a lot of turnovers, especially in the first half. As they stole the ball, St. Mary’s scored on the fast break, and finished the half with 10 total turnovers. SMR added five more takeaways in the second to finish with 15.
The Little Hoyas proved they can be a competitive side against their Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) opponent, thanks to quality shots made in the paint and shooting 48.3% field goal percentage in the half.
“It’s an opportunity for them,” said Blue. “Our guys are playing at a good level. Typically, (they want to go the next level after this, whether it’s Division 1, 2 or 3.”
One Georgetown Prep player who really impressed many people with his play was rising junior point guard Zion Russell, who started off hot with nine points, as his team led 30-26 at halftime.
“I love being in this environment,” said Russell. “It’s the best of the best who play here; the DMV produces a lot of good talent, and it’s just great to play against all these good players.”
The second half is when the Little Hoyas started to dominate the contest, as they led by 10 a few times. Russell continued to lead his team with 13 more points in the second half to finish the afternoon with 22 total points. He also made eight of his nine free throws.
“I felt like I could have done better,” said Russell. “Could have eliminated some turnovers, just trying to show these college coaches that I’m an all-around point guard. I can do everything. I can rebound, give my teammates the ball, and being able to score. Just being able to do everything on all three levels.”
The Little Hoyas had previously lost to the Knights on a buzzer beater in the Capitol Hoops Summer League on June 10, but Russell loved getting revenge on Saturday.
“So now to get revenge and play them again and get the dub, it feels pretty good, to me personally,” said Russell.
The second-best scorer on Georgetown Prep was rising sophomore forward Stefan Marcelle, who dropped 16 points.
“It felt good to beat a WCAC school get something to prove, to show what the Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) schools can do,” Marcelle said.
“Their scoring totals aren’t very important to me,” said Blue. “It’s the quality of the shots they take, the decisions they make, and the effort they give. I feel like we’ve got a lot of players on our team that can score some points.”
St. Mary’s Ryken did almost come back on late scores from guard Jules Bikoy, but there was not enough time remaining to cap it off. With all the attention centered around him and his teammates during their game, Marcelle felt proud of the win and getting play in front of many college coaches in attendance at DeMatha.
“Big opportunity,” said Marcelle. “I want to prove that I’m a good player, and I can become the best player I can be, and just have fun.”
For the losing side, the leading scorer for the Knights was rising junior guard Devin Ceaser, who dropped 24 total points on an 8-for-20 shooting.