ROCKVILLE — The third week of the Montgomery County Road Summer League tipped off on June 24, with the first game featuring 2-2 Walter Johnson High School and 0-4 Quince Orchard.
The game was close throughout, with the Cougars looking for their first win, but with three seconds left, Liam Levine hit the game-winning layup to give the Wildcats the 50-48 victory.
“It just all happened so fast,” said Levine. “There’s like five seconds left, someone just passed it to me, and I just finished. There’s no words to describe it.”
The game was relatively close throughout, especially in the first half, thanks to the shooting both teams displayed while forcing turnovers on defense.
One Walter Johnson player who put up a fight in the first half was Philip Stubin, who dropped 12 points in the half, while adding another bucket in the second half gave him a total of 14 points.
“I felt I was all right,” said Stubin. “(In the) second half, I had too many turnovers, but at the end of the day, we got the win, and that’s all that matters.”
The Wildcats had the lead for the majority of the first half, but QO came through with some key plays to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.
“When you play against a team like Quince Orchard, they get confident trapping you,” said WJ Head Coach Kevin Parrish. “You don’t have a chance to prepare for something like that. You could tell, especially in the first half, we had a lot of turnovers and, really, the whole game we had a lot of turnovers. But summer league’s all about experience.”
The leading scorer for the Cougars at the end of the half was Jared Sabban, who scored seven points, including a converted 3-pointer.
For a majority of the second half, QO maintained its advantage and looked poised to finally get its first win of the Road Summer League. However, Mikel Fornwald hit a go-ahead layup with over a minute and a half remaining, which gave the Wildcats a quick lead.
With the score tied at 48-48 in the dying moments of the contest, Fornwald passed the ball to Levine, who drove to the hoop and hit the game-winning layup with three seconds left.
“I wasn’t very pleased with my performance in the first half,” said Levine. “But then, by the end of the game, I was starting to hit my lay-ups, which was very pleasing, and that game-winner was nice.”
Levine finished the game with 10 total points. His head coach and teammates said they were quite impressed with his ability to score in a critical moment, considering the results of their last few games.
“It was a clutch play,” said Parrish. “Our last two games, we’ve gone to double overtime or triple overtime, and so we were looking at that again. So I just told them, ‘Happy we didn’t go to overtime again.’”
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Stubin. “So, to come out on top, it’s exactly what we wanted, of course. We’ve had two overtime games the past few games, and it was pleasing to get it done in regulation.”
The Wildcats currently sit in the middle of the league standings, but Stubin feels confident about his team moving forward.
“I think we have a shot to make a deep run into the playoffs,” said Stubin. “Our chemistry’s on the rise and everyone’s improving, and that’s what we need.”
“All the teams here are evenly matched,” said Parrish. “Just always trying to tell our kids to hang in there and we’ve seemed to be able to make enough plays in the end to pull it out.”
Meanwhile, Alex Parisotto was Quince Orchard’s leading scorer, with 17 total points. However, Head Coach Paul Foringer said he was far from impressed with his team.
“Not really playing as a team,” said Foringer. “I don’t like some of the defenses that we’re trying to employ. I don’t see enough pressure. I see timidness around the basket. The free-throw shooting was god-awful. If there was a checklist, I don’t think there would be anything that I would check that was in a positive vein, to be honest.”