Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Sherwood boys hand Magruder first loss

Sherwood 42, Magruder 39

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Sherwood High senior Xavier Yeoman knew the moment the ball left his hands that his free throw in the final seconds of Friday’s boys basketball game against Magruder was off-target.

Instead of sulking, Yeoman did his job and crashed the glass, grabbing his own missed shot and drawing the foul that put him back on the line. This time Yeoman delivered, hitting both of his free throws for the final points in the Warriors’ 42-39 victory in Sandy Spring.

‘‘As soon as I missed it, I started thinking about how I was going to get the ball back,” said Yeoman, who scored 11 points. ‘‘When I got another chance, I knew my team was relying on me to make the [foul shots]. As soon as the first one went down, I felt a little bit of relief.”

The game also provided some relief to a gymnasium packed with Sherwood faithful. After defeating the Colonels three times last season, including in the class 4A state final, Sherwood returned several key players, including Bo Holston, Tom Gilchrist and Dominique Budd, and looked to make a run at another title.

Yet early on, the Warriors stumbled, dropping four of their first five games. With the win over Magruder, Sherwood (5-4) moved above the .500 level for the first time this season and showed its supporters that better days may be ahead.

‘‘At the beginning of the season, we got a little bit selfish,” Sherwood coach Dondrell Whitmore said. ‘‘I think some of the guys thought they could do everything their own way and we weren’t playing as a team.”

Friday, Sherwood found a way to band together to beat the high-flying Colonels, who came into the game undefeated. Rather than try to outscore Magruder (7-1), the Warriors slowed the tempo, dictating the pace of the game.

Forced to work the ball inside despite its four-guard set, Magruder scored just seven points in the first quarter and 19 in the first half. The Colonels kept themselves in the game by clamping down on the defensive end, and trailed by six points at halftime.

‘‘We’ve struggled at times scoring this year,” Magruder coach Dan Harwood said. ‘‘I thought that we played excellent defense in this game, I just thought Sherwood’s kids played equally well defensively. We need to run a little more. We don’t have a halfcourt offense to play a game in the forties. We need to run and get up there in the sixties.”

Yet when Henderson (13 points) banged home the second of his two three-pointers to end the third quarter, Magruder took a 32-30 lead, its first of the game. Rather than shrink, the Warriors turned to an unlikely cast. While Budd and Holston combined to score just 14 points in the game, forward Aaron Krens scored a team-high 13. Yeoman scored seven of his 11 in the second half.

‘‘Each loss has been great for us,” Whitmore said. ‘‘It has made us stronger. We have handled those losses and bounced back. We definitely needed a win like this to prove that we are a good team.”

For Yeoman, handing his school’s archrival its first loss of the season was sweet, but joining the ranks of county team’s with winning records was even sweeter.

‘‘This is a big win,” he said. ‘‘We worked together, and now we know we can do anything.”

Note: In the girls’ game Thursday, Magruder (2-6) picked up its second win in a row, 58-39 over Sherwood (1-8).