Poolesville High School boys basketball guard Anthony Papagjika can officially take credit for “shooting the lights out” at the Falcons gym on Friday night.
The 5-foot-7 senior's fourth 3-point shot hit all net with 6:55 left in the game, giving Poolesville a 44-32 lead against Rockville. Six seconds later, half of the gym's lights unexpectedly lost power for nearly 15 minutes.
No worries for the hosts, as they went on a 13-5 run for the next six minutes to bury the Rams, 57-41, improving to 14-3 overall, and 9-2 in Montgomery County 3A/2A Division play.
Not one to tout his own game, Papagjika offered a simple explanation as to how he and his team were able to pull away from a squad that defeated them 53-33 on Jan. 8 in Rockville.
“We just played the game of basketball, we just played like we [know we] can,” said Papagjika, who tied senior forward Trevor Stottlemyer for game-high scoring honors with 17 points, including five 3-pointers.
“When the lights went out, coach [Kenny Kramek] had us circle around, and he gave us a talk. He said 'don't go to sleep out there, and come out firing, because we got embarrassed [in our] last game,” said senior guard Collin Turner. “We had a lot more intensity. Everyone was much more focused in this game.”
Rockville (9-8, 5-7) took an early 12-6 advantage midway through the first quarter and finished the period with a 15-12 lead, thanks to 3-pointer by junior guard Nehemiah Jackson (14 points). Junior guard Brian Ball (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists) would give the Rams its last lead of the night with two free throws with 6:50 left in the second quarter at 19-17. Papagjika then hit two consecutive 3-pointers to give the Falcons the lead back at 22-17. A jumper by Jeff Byrd tied the game at 22 before the hosts took a 25-22 lead into halftime, thanks to a foul shot by Stottlemyer and a drive by Kirby Carmack (10 points, six rebounds).
Poolesville expanded the lead to seven at 39-32 at the end of the third period, as Turner (10 points, eight rebounds) drained a trey after making a slick around-the-back move from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded. The move was so impressive that a Rockville player on the way to his own bench felt compelled to give Turner a congratulatory swat on the backside.
“We're very capable [shooting], I'll put Collin, Anthony, and Andy [Baker] up against any 3-point shooters in this county,” Kramek said. “So when they get going with the crowd behind them they can be very, very tough.”
The Falcons' players and coaching staff felt much better about their team's overall defensive effort against the Rams. Still smarting from a 62-60 loss at Northwood on Wednesday, Poolesville made a concerted effort to improve on its overall defense against Rockville.
“We've given up 33 3-pointers over our last three games,” Kramek said. “Northwood just shot lights out against us, they hit 12 3-pointers. We were a half-second behind defensively. So the last couple of days we worked really hard on defensive intensity, defensive positioning, and just contesting shots. You don't have to block every shot, you just want to force them into difficult shots. And I think we did a much better job in the second half getting out on shooters and making them have to penetrate.”
Stottlemyer was also pleased with the work his team put in practice on the defensive end.
“We just made sure we got a hand in [the Rockville players] face, because we know they have some shooters on their team,” added Stottlemyer, who also pulled down five rebounds and blocked four shots.
Poolesville 57, Rockville 41
Rockville (9-8, 5-7) 15 7 10 9—41
Poolesville (14-3, 9-2) 12 13 14 18—57
Rockville: Nehemiah Jackson 14, Peter Hailey 5, Jeff Byrd 4, Anthony Ellis 6, Brian Ball 10, Jacob Griffiths-Randolph 2.
Poolesville: Kirby Carmack 10; Anthony Papagjika 17; Andy Baker 3; Collin Turner 10; Trevor Stottlemyer 17.