DERWOOD – Defense and an aggressive playing style were prevalent on July 15 when Northwest High School faced off against the Einstein Titans in the Montgomery County Road Summer Basketball League at Magruder High School.
Northwest came out swinging to open both halves of pay and overcome a short-lived first half Einstein lead to beat the Titans, 66-43.
Jaguars sophomore guard CJ Lee and senior guard Julian Seabolt-Wilbanks combined for nearly 50 of Northwest’s points, as both players delivered when their team needed them the most. Seabolt-Wilbanks drove to the basket multiple times and finished most of his plays with points on the board for the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Lee showed off his skills from behind the arc as he tallied five 3-point buckets.
“I was just taking what the (Einstein) defense gave me,” said Lee. “Coach tells us to play aggressive and not let them get by us. Everybody played aggressive(ly) and played as a team to try to get the win.”
That aggression led to a 12-point Northwest lead early in the first half. However, the Titans perked up on offense, and suddenly the big shots started dropping for Einstein instead. Junior guard Mandela Attakorah served up a pair of treys in the first half and generated turnovers that stole the momentum away from Northwest. Attakorah finished the game with a team-high 16 points.
Northwest’s defense forced Einstein to use up most of the shot clock on several occasions, but Titans guard Andres Jones remained unbothered. The senior penetrated through the paint for the go-ahead layup when there were just a few ticks left on the shot clock. Einstein’s first and only lead of the night lasted just a few seconds, though, as the Jaguars responded immediately and carried a six-point lead into halftime.
However, the second half proved to be Einstein’s undoing as the Titans endured an offensive drought. In stark contrast, Lee opened the half with another 3-pointer, while Seabolt-Wilbanks’ tried-and-true formula proved to be prolific for Northwest, and soon the Jaguars nursed a 19-point lead.
The Titans had managed to knock down just one basket five minutes into the half before Einstein sophomore Terrol Lee tried to generate an offensive spark by landing a 3-pointer.
Meanwhile, Lee and Seabolt-Wilbanks seemed to be hitting their offensive stride, and many of their open shots hit their mark.
On the other side of the ball, the Northwest defense continued to force the Titans to use up the shot clock, and that defensive pressure spelled the beginning of the end for Einstein.
“Tonight was one of our better defensive games. I wish it was that way every game,” said Northwest Head Coach BJ DeBuchananne. “Every time we do get together and work out we try to focus on defense for at least part of that time, so it was good to see it pay off in a game.”
Titans Head Coach Justin Taylor provided an optimistic approach to his team’s loss. Einstein has just two seniors on the team; the rest are underclassmen.
“I think it’s good that we’re getting beat up a little bit because it teaches us competitiveness and it teaches us to be humble,” said Taylor. “I think it’s going to help us grow going forward. We have a young group, and it’s very promising. I’m actually very excited. It’s a two-year process, and I know they want to win now, but you just have to trust the process.”
Since several Northwest players graduated last season, DeBuchananne is looking for players to step up and to come together as a unit.
“We’re just basically trying to get everybody on the same page. Just more bonding and gelling with the team,” said DeBuchananne. “After you graduate seniors, you kind of want to see the next guys and the next group that’s coming in, how they fit together. We have some new guys coming in from JV, returning guys, varsity that didn’t play as much last year; you just want to see how all of those pieces fit together.”