ROCKVILLE – Oakdale High School held off Colonel Zadok A. Magruder High School 69-59 July 22 in the first round of the Montgomery County Recreation Summer League.
The Bears were led by three double-digit scorers in guard Dylan Berney (14 points), forward Tommy Kelly (13 points) and forward Ethan Reifer (10 points). Guard Rashid Abudu and wing Chris Asamoah scored 13 points apiece to lead the Colonels.
“We didn’t have our head coach here so we had to fight through that,” Berney said, “I liked how we came out sharp at the start and carried it out.”
The Bears were only down 7-4 early in the first half before they seized the lead off a 7-2 run and would not surrender their advantage. Magruder stopped the bleeding with a layup in transition off a pass from guard Travis Crandau to wing Cristian Pebenito.
A 3-pointer from guard Bankeys Omari tied the game up for the Colonels down the stretch of the first half, however, Oakdale reeled off an 11-2 run powered by three straight layups from Reifer to create a 31-22 halftime lead.
“Toughness,” Reifer said, “That’s our big thing is always playing tough. You might have nights where you can’t shoot well, but the one thing you can control is how hard you play. That’s what we preach at Oakdale.”
In contrast, Magruder’s on-court style for its summer league squad was starkly different than the winter. For years, the Colonels have run a ball-movement centric offense, but according to Head Coach Dan Harwood, the summer is where he just “roll the ball out” and give his players the freedom to do whatever plays they want.
In their matchup against Oakdale, the Colonels played more isolation and one-on-one plays, much to the chagrin of Harwood. Twice you could hear the veteran coach telling his players that they were not playing “Magruder basketball.”
“It’s frustrating that’s why I don’t like to coach in the summer because we’re not practicing,” Harwood said frankly. “We usually just want the kids to develop and see what they can show in the summer.”
As a result, the Colonels had only one player, Asamoah, scoring all of their points in the second half, including knocking down all four of his 3-pointers.
“Chris has had a great summer for us, he should be if not the best one of the best shooters in Montgomery County.” Harwood said. “Usually during the season we’re pretty good at getting the ball to hot shooters. We definitely believe in milking that cow we call it.”
Magruder still put pressure on the Bears when they cut the lead down to a one-point game after Asamoah scored back-to-back buckets. Oakdale then rose to the occasion and went off for a 11-0 run. The crushing run was highlighted by a technical foul from Magruder.
“Oakdale’s a good team,” Harwood said, “But, hey, we did a lot of good things this summer. We’re going to be a very good shooting team but before you become a really good shooting team you got to pass well.”
That decimating run exemplified what Oakdale has built over time during the summer, according to Assistant Head Coach Ryan Bradenburg. Toughness and hard work have been the culture they have been trying to establish since losing guard Jack McGaha, their best scorer, due to a knee injury. Having leaders like Reifer, who also plays football, holds his teammates responsible for missing weight lifting sessions or team workouts, according to Bradenburg.
The team is also trying to move on following the loss of their best player from last season, Colin Schlee, to graduation. Despite having three starters coming back, playing by committee, as they did against Magruder, will be the focus of the preseason that everyone is already buying into, Bradenburg said.
“A lot of people think us losing somebody as good as Schlee that it’s going to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for us,” Bradenburg said, “But these guys all learned from Colin, they all worked out with him. 1-12 our guys can play, we don’t have to protect anybody. “
Oakdale withstood one more spurt from Magruder after Asamoah hit his last 3-pointer of the night. The Colonels had a chance to make it 63-60 but a 3-point attempt from Crandau rimmed out. The Bears closed the game out at the free-throw line, solidifying their place in the summer league semifinals.