Following a first half that featured nearly a dozen lead changes, the Charles H. Flowers High School boys’ basketball team never relinquished the advantage in the second half, pulling away from host DuVal, 62-53, in a Prince George’s County 4A League game that was closer than the final score indicated.
DuVal (7-8 overall, 4-6 league) and Flowers exchanged leads four times in a frenetic first quarter, including a 30-second stretch when the lead changed hands three times. The hosts held a slim, 17-15, lead at the end of the first period and the Tigers gained the upper hand early in the second period. In fact, twice during the frame the Tigers owned a five-point advantage.
But Flowers (11-3, 8-2) scored the last six points of the first half to claim a 32-31 lead at the intermission and the visitors would never surrender. On four different occasions the Tigers clawed to within a single point, the last time at 50-49 with three minutes remaining. The Jaguars’ 6-0 run over the final 90 seconds of the first half proved to be the pivotal point of the contest and each coach offered a different take on the scenario.
“I think in the last part of the second quarter we went to a bigger lineup and that gave them trouble,’ said second-year Flowers’ coach Mark Edwards, whose team faces Laurel on Friday. “We have a lot of guys who are tough to handle inside, like Clint Robinson and Patrick Johnson and our guards are also good at penetrating to the basket and creating scoring chances. We just did a little bit better job rebounding tonight.”
Second-year DuVal coach Lafayette Dublin, who played for the Tigers under longtime coach Artie Walker, Sr., thought his team’s problems were primarily self-inflicted.
“What happened at the end of the second quarter was the result of what we didn’t do well,” Dublin said. “We didn’t play good defense and we didn’t rebound. When we get back on defense, we’re a really good defensive team. We had too many plays where we did not get back on defense and that enabled them to get some easy baskets. My main focus as a coach is playing good team defense and tonight we didn’t do that at times and that cost us.”
While DuVal’s offensive producttion gradually dipped with each passing quarter, Flowers maintained a fairly even distribution of points. In both halves, Robinson was difficult for the Tigers to stop inside. He lead all scorers with 20 points, and he had 18 rebounds, seven on the offensive end.
When Robinson became the focus of the DuVal defense, Flowers’ guards Devin Shuler and Juwan Weldon drove to the basket for layups or short jumpers.
Following a flurry of lead changes in the first half, including the pivotal one just before the intermission courtesy of the Jaguars’ 6-0 run late in the second period, there would be precisely zero lead changes in the second half. Flowers would frequently push its lead to four or five points, only to see DuVal chip away. Twice in the third quarter the Tigers got to within one point of the visitors, but the Jaguars’ Tyrik Campbell ended that frame with a three-point field goal.
Flowers extended its lead to 49-42 early in the fourth, but again the Tigers countered to get within a point at 50-49. Edward Polite scored five of his team’s seven points in that span, but missed a free throw that would have tied the game at 50 with 3:16 remaining. Then when Shuler, Weldon and Patrick Johnson helped Flowers sprint to a 57-50 lead with two minutes remaining, the Tigers did not have an answer. The Jaguars’ maintained their safe lead late as Weldon, Campbell and Robinson hit five of six free throws in the last 45 seconds.
“We were able to hit those free throws in the last minute,” Edwards said. “That’s the key to being able to finish any game when you have the lead late.”
Charles H. Flowers 62, DuVal 53
Flowers 15 17 14 16—62
DuVal 17 14 11 11—53
Flowers (62) — Clint Robinson 20, Tyrik Campbell 13, Juwan Weldon 12, Devin Shuler 11, Patrick Johnson 7, Mykal Johnson 5.
DuVal (53) — Edward Polite 17, Donald Lane 13, Khalil Newkirk 9, A.J. Wilson 6, Kevin Simpson 5, Rodney Richardson 2.