Aside from a few outlying All-Star games and showcases, the high school boys’ basketball season has come to a close. To provide some closure, and to complement our Prince George’s County All-Gazette team that was released in print and online this morning, The Gazette is handing out a few extra end-of-the-year awards.
Best team: Riverdale Baptist
Coach Lou Wilson may not have had the headliner talent of his 2013 Capital Beltway team, which sent Nigel Johnson to Kansas State, Khary Doby to North Carolina A&T, and Ronald Whitaker to Gulf Coast State, but the Crusaders retained their regular-season league championship and went on to win the inaugural Maryland Private School Championship.
Honorable mention: Henry A. Wise.
Best moment: Rob Garner and Renard Johnson win first state titles on same day.
These two coaches — Garner for Wise, Johnson for Potomac — were ecstatic just to be coaching against each other during the county championship game. They grew up in the same town, starred at the same high school (Potomac), graduated from the same college (Delaware), and began their Prince George’s County coaching career with the same team (Friendly). And in their third years at their respective schools, the two returned home with their first state championships.
Honorable mention: Riverdale Baptist’s Lou Wilson selected to coach McDonald’s All-American game
Best game: Potomac vs. Patterson, 2A state semifinal
Regrettably, I wasn’t even there for what was apparently a thrilling fourth quarter and I still know what a tremendous game of basketball this was. It was a classic Prince George’s County-Baltimore City matchup — arguably the two most talent-rich counties in the state — replete with lead changes, comebacks, and Division I talent. Potomac, of course, went on to defeat Patterson, 70-65, and then Oakdale the next day for its first state title since 2005.
Honorable mention: DeMatha vs. Paul VI, Feb. 17
Breakout player: D.J. Harvey, DeMatha
If you didn’t see a DeMatha game this year and catch a D.J. Harvey backdoor alley-oop, you were missing out. The good news: you have three more years to drop by Hyattsville and watch the high-flying Harvey do just that. The Stags’ basketball program is, historically, one of the most prestigious in the country, and Harvey still found a way to set new milestones. When coach Mike Jones started Harvey in the season-opener, the 6-foot-5 freshman became the first to do so since Adrian Dantley in the late 1960s. On Feb. 25, in an eventual 56-37 loss to Paul VI, Harvey did something not even Dantley did: start in a WCAC championship game, the first and only rookie to do so for DeMatha.
Honorable mention: Andre Fox
Breakout team: Clinton Christian
In 2013, Clinton could have been charitably labeled as a dormant program. But Principal Carlos Williams had a plan. Chris Cole was that plan, and a remarkably effective one. Cole, originally hired as an assistant who took over midway through the season, lured in eight high-profile players to don Eagle uniforms, spearheaded the movement for Clinton to join the uber-talented CBAA, and went on to snatch the tournament title from powerhouse Riverdale Baptist.
Honorable mention: Central
Best single-game performance: Capitol Christian’s Marcquise Reed drops 52
Reed had scored plenty before: 45 on Bull City Prep, 48 on Upper Room Christian, 41 on Queen Anne’s County, 40 on MATHS. So realistically he owns the top five places for this award. But the 50-point threshold had eluded him until that second meeting with Upper Room Christian on March 15. The recipe to a 52-point night goes like this: 10 field goals, nine additional 3-pointers, six free throws.
Honorable mention: Abdulai Bundu scores 31, grabs 18 rebounds in win over Central
Biggest upset: Bishop McNamara shocks St. John’s in WCAC playoffs
It wasn’t quite March, but Bishop McNamara was happy to usher in the madness. The Cadets had proven all but untouchable all year long, losing in the WCAC just twice, to Paul VI and DeMatha, which came after their No. 1 seed in the tournament had been locked up. And then, on the same day that St. Mary’s Ryken gave DeMatha a scare, and Bishop Ireton stunned Bishop O’Connell and Melo Trimble, McNamara shocked St. John’s, once ranked in the top 15 in the entire country.
Honorable mention: Friendly beats No. 10 Crossland
Best student section: DeMatha, WCAC championship game
It’s unclear if anybody was entirely sure what the theme was — and maybe that was the point, and what ultimately made the student section so bizarrely and hilariously awesome. There were big heads of famous Stag alum floating through the crowd, right along with beach balls and swimming noodles. There were kids in Hawaiian shirts. Kids in tank tops. Kids in t-shirts. Kids in no shirts. Some were in the DeMatha blue and red, others in virtually every color under the sun. Their eclectic disunity was their unity. The students showed up in huge numbers, were loud, and perhaps most importantly, showed a great deal of class.
Honorable mention: Potomac, inaugural homecoming game, Jan. 31.
Best playoff performance: Quadree Smith, Potomac
Does Potomac win the 2A state championship without Quadree Smith? It’s hard to say — that’s how valuable Smith was during the Wolverines’ playoff run. In five postseason games, the Paul VI transfer averaged 18.4 rebounds per game, his low being a 15-board performance in a win over Gwynn Park. The 6-foot-7 big man recorded four double-doubles, averaged 13.4 points, and ultimately carried Potomac to a state championship.
Honorable mention: Gary Stewart, Central
— Travis Mewhirter