When the 2010-11 school year ended, DeMatha junior basketball player Beejay Anya decided he wanted to improve his “overall game.”
Already one of the top high school recruits in the nation — ESPN ranks him No. 37 in the nation for the Class of 2013 — Anya decided improvement meant changing his physique. The 6-foot-8 center altered his eating habits and workout regime and dropped from 300 pounds to 260, giving the Stags a leaner, more athletic weapon, which was on display Tuesday night in Hyattsville as DeMatha rolled to a 75-58 victory against Col. Zadok Magruder High.
“He runs the floor much better,” coach Mike Jones said. “It is night and day. It's funny because you can look at film from our games last year and it's like, ‘Who's that kid?' We had a college coach come in and Beejay was stretching right in front of him and he asked me where Beejay was.”
“I changed my diet and I was working out every day trying to stay in shape and get in shape for this season,” said Anya, who was unstoppable en route to game-high 20 points.
“Beejay is a man-child,” said Colonels' coach Dan Harwood. “DeMatha did a great job getting him the ball early. … No way to replicate [Anya in practice]. Not only is he big, but he's skilled and takes up a lot of space.”
The Stags (2-0) dominated in all facets of the game against the Montgomery County public school power. They led 21-7 after one quarter and 40-19 at the half as Anya had his way in the paint with several easy dunks and 12 points.
Magruder (0-1) executed its drive and kick offense better in the second half and utilized a full-court press to cut the deficit to 15 points, 49-34, midway through the third quarter, but would get no closer. DeMatha pushed its advantage to 58-36 with a 9-2 run over the final 2 minutes, 33 seconds of the quarter.
Anya was one of 10 Stags who scored points, including Syracuse University recruit Jerami Grant, who had 11 of his 13 points in the first half. University of Pittsburgh recruit James Robinson added 11 for DeMatha.
“They're certainly a notch above us and we have to play really well to be able to play with them,” Harwood said. “I told [the team] we have to get to the state championship level so we have to play at that level, but we have three months to get there.”
Forward Garland Owens (18 points) and guards Nick Griffin (19) and J.J. Epps (12) paced the reigning 4A West Region champions.
“They might not lose another game this year,” Jones said of Magruder. “Actually I'm going to root for that just so we can say we are the one that beat them.”
It was the fourth meeting between the perennial powers, and the Stags hold a 3-1 lead in the public-private school series. DeMatha also won at Magruder in 1992 and during the 2002 Morgan Wootten Invitational in College Park. Harwood's program picked up a 2003 victory in Hyattsville. The teams are scheduled to face each other again at the beginning of next season in Rockville.