HYATTSVILLE — As the second and final week of the DMV Live Period basketball showcase tipped off this past weekend, two bitter rivals squared off once again in front of a much different audience than usual.
However, it did not interfere with the performances by Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) adversaries Georgetown Prep and Landon on June 29. While both teams put on a show in front of the college coaches, scouts and fans in attendance at DeMatha Catholic High School, the Little Hoyas stood out in this occasion, converting the majority of their shots en route to a 94-85 victory over the Bears.
Early on, it was Landon who led and looked like they were going to come away with the victory, despite only having five active players on the roster for the game. However, midway through the first half, Georgetown Prep came back and took control of the game. They battled back from a six-point deficit to eventually taking a 31-21 lead and sat comfortably up by 11 points at halftime.
“It’s always tough to play a league opponent in the summertime,” said Georgetown Prep Head Coach Howard Blue, “because it doesn’t have the same feel or the same importance, but it’s just as big of a game, and we want to win.”
Junior Zion Russell once again had a standout performance in the DMV Live Period as he dropped 11 points in the first half, finished with 22 total points, seven rebounds and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“I felt I did pretty well,” said Russell. “I just found my team and got them the ball, and I was able to get to the basket and execute, and get us into our offense. We gradually just got the lead, but we let them go at the end a little bit, but we still ended up with the win.”
Russell’s sophomore teammate Stefan Marcelle also looked impressive on the court, as he started with 12 points in the first half and finished with a double-double performance of 18 points and 11 rebounds. However, Marcelle was very reflective on what he needs to improve prior to the start of the regular season this winter.
“Still some stuff I need to work on,” said Marcelle. “Rebounding, boxing out, defense-wise and just getting stronger. I think I played really well.”
Along with their shooting success, Blue said he continues to feel proud of coaching these young, talented player and how they are now starting to gel together as a team. Another Little Hoyas player who finished with double digits point was senior Quentin Southall, who dropped 13 points on a 5-for-6 shooting and went 2-for-2 at the free-throw line against the Bears.
“They’re learning how to play every day,” said Blue. “They’re figuring this game out, working hard, learning how to shoot the ball, finding opportunities where they exist.”
Georgetown Prep continued to dominate throughout the contest, increased their lead to as high as 13 points and made several substitutions to play fresh players against the shorthanded Bears. The lowest the lead would drop to was eight points as the Little Hoyas never surrendered any momentum during the second half.
“It felt real good,” said Marcelle about defeating Landon. “I feel inspired to work hard and play aggressive, try to get as much rebounds as I can, dominate the game, and represent for Georgetown Prep.”
While the Georgetown Prep and Landon’s rivalry may feel more intense and important during the school year, both Russell and Marcelle said they love the opportunity to play against the Bears.
“Every time we play against them, they post a good game, and it’s always the best fight,” said Russell..“It’s a blessing to play against them always, because it always gets that energy and adrenaline just to play the game of basketball.”
The DMV Live Period basketball showcase has attracted many college basketball coaches from around the country to check out these young, up-and-coming athletes. Notable coaches who have visited DeMatha recently are West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Michigan’s recently hired Juwan Howard.
“I got a lot of college coaches to see me,” said Russell. “Just playing for the AAU, I didn’t play as well. So when I come out here, I play well, and college coaches are starting to notice me, and it’s a blessing just to have this event.”
“It helped me get known,” said Marcelle. “See some things I hadn’t seen before, experiencing some new things, seeing new college coaches I’ve never seen before, and just develop.”
Despite the attention, there are still problems that need to be corrected before the start of the regular season, Blue said. The Little Hoyas head coach was not pleased with the defensive effort displayed in giving up so many points in the game. If they plan to compete for an IAC Championship next season, tighter defense will have to be implemented, Blue said.
“I think we won the game, but we didn’t play very well,” said Blue. “We scored 90 points, while the other team had 80. Not very pleased with our defensive effort. We got the win, and our guys did something right.”
Landon junior Kino Lilly put up a team-high 25 points in a losing effort.