All-star basketball: Prince George's 3A/2A/1A takes charge vs. 4A -- Gazette.Net



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Derica Souder made the biggest shot, but she got the worst seat.

Shortly after the Largo High School senior hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the waning moments of Friday night's Prince George's County Girls All-Star Game, her team posed for a photo. With enough seats on the bench for every player and coach but one, Souder sprawled across the Prince George's Community College court in front of her comfortably situated teammates and coaches.

She might have been down in that moment, but thanks to her and three of her male Largo classmates, the County 3A/2A/1A League won both the premier boys and girls games against the County 4A league. The boys won, 90-79, and the girls won, 66-63, on Souder's shot. The 4A League won a preliminary boys game against the 3A/2A/1A League, 70-69.

“That's what I do,” Souder said. “I'm a clutch shooter. Perfect form — I knew it was going in.”

The 3A/2A/1A girls trailed by nine at halftime, and their coach, Dashawn Dillard of Fairmont Heights, said he knew he wanted the comeback to end with Souder.

“We were trying to get it to her for the last two minutes,” Dillard said.

Well before her game winner, Souder impressed Dillard with her work ethic in two practices leading up to Friday's contest. The Largo senior, on the other hand, said she felt her shot was rusty.

“She called me and said, ‘Coach, I know I'm not your player, but can we shoot around?'” Dillard said.

After her softball practice Wednesday, Souder hopped a bus to Fairmont Heights, where Dillard held the gym open for her to shoot with Fairmont Heights point guard LaQuannea Whitmire for about 45 minutes.

“That's the mark of a champion,” Dillard said.

So was her final shot.

“That's what I'm supposed to do,” said Souder, who has drawn recruiting interest from Bowie State and Delaware State. “I'm supposed to shoot. I'm a shooter. I don't know nothing else but shoot, shoot.”

The 3A/2A/1A boys didn't need such dramatics in their victory, thanks in part to the spirited play of Largo's Damante McNeill, Lafayette Nelson and Michael Graham. McNeill and Nelson played most of their minutes together, often setting each other up for baskets.

And McNeill didn't hesitate to tell the 4A players how well he was doing, even sitting between them — rather than his own teammates — near the scorer's table while waiting to check in.

“I was just telling them they couldn't check me, they couldn't stop me,” McNeill said. “And I proved it on the court.”

McNeill saved a little trash talk for Graham, who joined Nelson and McNeill on the court late in the second half after playing most of the game with a different group.

“I was passing him the ball, trying to get him a dunk,” McNeill said, motioning to Graham. “He didn't want to dunk it, so I decided to get my own.”

With about a minute left in the game, McNeill tried to hide behind a teammate to avoid ending the game on the bench.

“I love playing with my brothers,” McNeill said.

dfeldman@gazette.net