ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Recreation Department summer basketball league playoffs kicked off on July 22 at Magruder High School as the field of eight teams whittled down to the final four. One of the matchups featured the No. 2 Sherwood High School against the No. 7 Rockville High School.
The Warriors from Sherwood started the game hot and never relinquished their substantial lead to cruise to a 65-32 victory.
The statement-making win was a good birthday gift for Sherwood senior guard Bryan Major, who celebrated his special day by posting a game-high 15 points; teammate Stephen Billig also made an impact with 14 points of his own.
Major’s infectious energy set the tone for the rest of his teammates early on. The senior flew all over the court as he created turnovers, generated fouls and darted through the open lane for layups. Sherwood made sure the Rams stayed on defense, and Rockville remained scoreless for the first six minutes of the first half as a result.
“We played well as a team. We played great defense, and we all played together,” said Major. “We wanted to come out strong, and basically we turned defense into offense.”
Meanwhile, Rockville’s offensive woes continued until sophomore Okeyo Ayungo put the Rams on the board with a layup and then a three-pointer back to back.
Ayungo’s quick five points seemed to rejuvenate the Rams, who responded by increasing their aggression level. However, that extra aggression also sent Major to the free-throw line on several occasions, and Sherwood always stayed a few steps ahead.
Billig made his presence felt before halftime when he tallied a hat trick of treys in a matter of seconds. Two of the buckets landed from the left side of the arc; then the junior netted one more three-pointer from the top of the key to send Sherwood into the second half with a 20-point advantage.
Despite an impressive lead, the Warriors didn’t let up in the second period. Major tried to dart through the paint but changed his mind at the last second and completed a fast pass to a wide-open Billig for another three points.
Then, rising senior Nate Lacey capped off Sherwood’s highlight reel with a dunk as cheers from Warriors fans reverberated through the gym.
Rockville guard Daniel Pujo fought to put points on the board for the Rams as he muscled his way into the lane despite heavy defensive traffic from the Warriors. The senior’s eight points all came in the second half and tied for a team-high with junior Blessed Mbogo.
“Tonight was obviously not a great night for us. A lot of our guys just had an off night on the same night,” said Rockville Head Coach Todd Dembroski. “We’re a young team this year; we graduated a lot of guys last year. We’ve got some guys that can really knock down some shots this year, but we didn’t really show that tonight.”
Sherwood Head Coach Tom Sheahin pulled his starters late in the second half, but even the players from the bench entered the game ready to make an impact. Juniors Brett Seils and Mesai Fulmore combined for 13 last-minute points that all but guaranteed that the Warriors would move on in the postseason to face the winner of Whitman vs. Northwest.
“We’re a very good shooting team; we’re quick. That’s one of our strengths,” said Sheahin. “We like to put a lot of pressure, man to man, and wear teams down. We have a 14-man roster, and I trust all 14 of them. That’s pretty rare in high school. If somebody gets tired, I just put somebody else in and we don’t lose a lot, so that’s another plus for our team.”
“I’m most proud of our togetherness. I feel like when we say ‘one-two-three-Sherwood, four-five-six-family,’ that it’s really like that,” said Major.