The Bladensburg High School boys’ basketball team is comprised of two subsets of players: the polished vets who want to slow it down, work through various offenses, and get quality looks; and the young, run-and-gunners who want to hoist up as many shots as possible as quickly as possible.
When the two aren’t quite on the same page, as was the case during the first half of Tuesday’s game with High Point, the results are decidedly mixed. When the two are meshing, however, Bladensburg becomes the team that beat DuVal and took defending state champion Eleanor Roosevelt to overtime.
It took about 20 minutes for the youngsters and the upperclassmen to blend their mix of styles into an agreed upon system, and it came to the tune of a 52-26 second-half advantage and an 81-49 victory on senior night.
“I think the biggest problem with us is that we’re so young, not just by age, but by experience,” Bladensburg coach Antonio Williams said. “When we play the younger guys, they’re just playing with so much energy — scramble, play ‘D’, get out and run. Then we got the other kids who are more methodical, want to run the sets, because that’s what they’re used to, so we tried to switch it up in the second half. When we put in the younger guys, that’s what kicked it up for us.”
The run began midway through the third quarter with an and-one layup from sophomore Prince Obike, who missed the ensuing free throw, but the proverbial flood gates had been opened. Following a High Point miss the next trip down, senior Xavier Milam got to the line for two free throws, making one, and turned a steal off the subsequent inbounds pass into a layup.
Two more turnovers begat two more Obike layups, which preceded six straight points from junior Darrin Diggs, a transition layup for J’Waun Gallman, and a pair of free throws from sophomore Kavon Wade, which capped the run at 19-4 in the span of roughly four minutes.
“When we start shooting too many jump shots, we want to try to get everything going towards the rim,” Williams said. “And with the younger guys, that’s all they know, because coming from middle school all you’re trying to do is pressure the ball and get layups, so that’s what we’re trying to teach and get in the habit of doing.”
The fourth quarter was much of the same: turnovers caused by the press, ensuing layups, 17 more free throw attempts. What little momentum High Point could muster was quickly doused by the steal-happy Mustang defense, which became their most reliable source of offense in the second half.
“That’s about it,” said Obike, who scored eight of his 11 points in a 26-point third quarter for the Mustangs. “Just play defense, defense, defense.”
Added Jaquan Sterling, who scored a game-high 14 points: “All you got to do is put on the press, get in transition offense.”
Bladensburg 81, High Point 49
Bladensburg (6-16, 4-12): 15 14 26 26 — 81
High Point (0-16, 0-15): 12 11 10 16 — 49
Bladensburg: Jaquan Sterling 14, Dajon Lowe 12, Prince Obike 11, Tyreek Cook 8, Kavon Wade 7, Kyree Jenkins 6, Darrin Diggs 6, Sekou Soumah 5, J’Waun Gallman 4, Rodney Allen 3, Derick Martyin 2, Timothy Bellinger 2.
High Point: Chirac Ndauton 12, Aram Ilobache 10, Jared Alexander 8, Lester Smith 7, Shaun Bello 6, James Smith 3, Leke Aldenifuja 2.