Basketball fans across the nation were awfully spoiled on Saturday.
At the collegiate level, television viewers were treated to Arizona-Michigan, North Carolina-Kentucky, Wichita State-Tennessee and Oregon-Illinois, among others.
Those in the area who wanted to see the future of what will be looping on ESPN could have made the trip to DeMatha Catholic, where Keith Stevens and Team Takeover were hosting its seventh annual National High School Hoopfest, an all-day festival featuring Division I prospects by the dozen, an all-day buffet for college recruiters.
The schedule for Gazette-area coverage teams was:
12:15 p.m: Charles H. Flowers vs. St. Maria Goretti
3:45 p.m: Riverdale Baptist vs. Our Savior
5:30 p.m: Potomac vs. St. John's College High
7:15 p.m: Paul VI vs. Montrose Christian
9:00 p.m: DeMatha vs. Milford Mill
Even to Lou Wilson, a man who has seen a lion's share of Division I recruits, Our Savior's lineup was a bit astounding.
There was 6-foot-9 Cheick Diallo, 6-7 Kassoum Yakwe, 6-7 Mamadou Doucoure, 6-7 Mike Nzei, 6-6 Boubacar Diakite, 6-5 Kobie Eubanks, 6-5 Damon Wilson, and two others taller than six feet. Of course, Wilson has an exceptionally large lineup of his own. But still, “those are grown men out there,” he said after his Crusaders lost to those grown men, 71-64. “Those guys look like grown men.”
They played like them too. Our Savior led from the outset to the finish, allowing Riverdale to tie the game just once before stretching the lead to 16 midway through the third quarter, a deficit too large for Wilson's squad to come back from.
Riverdale's only other loss prior to Saturday's was a 48-46 thriller to St. James, when the Louisville-bound Chinanu Onuaku was out studying for SATs. The troubling aspect of Saturday was that Onuaku played a team-high 25 minutes and only managed eight points, though he did grab 15 of the team's 37 rebounds.
“That was the toughest team we've seen so far, yes,” Wilson said. “I think this team had a little more difficulty to them. Their big guy in the middle was blocking shots, they were scoring in the paint, and I would definitely say this is the best team we've played by far, and we have some dynamite teams left to play.”
Top Crusader scorers: Dajuan Abroms 20, Alex Long 9, Chinanu Onuaku 8, Eton Tre Thomas 7.
Somewhere tonight, Renard Johnson will be out celebrating, and it's not because of a phenomenal performance his Potomac team put on, rather the egg it laid in a Hoopfest-rematch with the WCAC's St. John's.
“I'm actually happy,” he said after the Cadets completed the 81-67 shellacking. “I'm going to go out and celebrate. This is something to wake them up.
With standouts Dion Wiley, Walter Broddie, and Dayjar Dickson starting the game on the bench due to an “undisclosed team matter,” the Wolverines started out flat and remained flat throughout. Even when Wiley, a Maryland signee, and Broddie checked in midway through the first quarter, down a manageable 12-6, their presence did little to galvanize the Wolverine offense.
Wiley didn't make his first field goal until 4 minutes, 25 seconds remained in the third quarter, by which point the Cadets had already built a 54-33 lead that would never be threatened.
It was the first time Potomac had been held less than 80 points, much less 70. In the previous three games leading up to the Hoopfest, the Wolverines had put up totals of 86, 110, and 82, beating those three opponents by a combined 72 points.
“I think our team was a little full of themselves,” Johnson said. “With those guys not doing what they're supposed to do and me not being able to start them, it just carried over the whole game. You never get it back.”
The good news? “I got a big gym to run in,” he said.
Top Wolverine scorers: Anthony Smith 21, Dayjar Dickson 12, Walter Broddie 12, Dion Wiley 10.
For one half, the much-anticipated matchup between WCAC heavyweight Paul VI and the traditionally powerful Montrose Christian lived up to the billing. There were seven lead changes, seven ties, and neither team led by more than six at any point.
Then, however, came the second half, and the narrative took a drastic shift in Paul VI's favor, which ended in a relatively cozy 75-58 win.
The Panthers ripped off a 16-2 run to blow the game open, 48-35, and Marcus Derrickson, who has offered Georgetown his verbal commitment, and later-named MVP Kevin Dorsey carried Paul VI the rest of the way.
The final numbers from the game depict a telling story: Paul VI finished with 11 assists to Montrose's eight, 16 turnovers to Montrose's 22, had 15 steals to Montrose's eight, outrebounded the Mustangs by eight, and outscored the Mustangs 30-15 off turnovers.
It wasn't all bad for Montrose. Allonzo Trier finished with a game-high 21 points while second-leading scorer Patrick McCaw (13 points) was seen chatting with University of Maryland representative Dustin Clark afterwards.
Top Mustang scorers: Allonzo Trier 21, Patrick McCaw 13, Raymond Doby 8.
The day began well for the hosts, with shooting guard Terrell Allen receiving an oral promise from Siena coach Jimmy Patsos that he would be extending a scholarship offer when they speak later this week, and it ended even better, as the Stags impressed the home crowd with an 81-65 drubbing of defending 3A state champ Milford Mill.
As Our Savior did, DeMatha led from the first bucket to the last, though the Stags didn't need any drama in their convincing win over the Millers and their supremely talented point guard Justin Jenifer.
By the end of the first quarter, the Stags led 21-14. Midway through the second, a Joe Hampton dunk put them up by double-digits and Alani Moore would extend that to 15 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to head into the break up 44-29. Cruise control went into effect from there as Mike Jones' group put together a convincing case that last years' losing season — just the second in school history — is buried far behind them.
Wagner recruit Corey Henson hit four threes en route to a team-high 18 points, Moore netted 14 on 5-of-6 shooting, Hampton closed with 12 despite being saddled with foul trouble early on, and Allen finished with 11 on a perfect shooting night, a fitting end to a great weekend for the guard.
“Right now we're just trying to stay focused, play hard,” Hampton said. “We're just working. We're just trying to be the best team we can be.”
Top Stag scorers: Corey Henson 18, Alani Moore 14, Joe Hampton 12, Terrell Allen 11.