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Hoops team falls in 3A South quarterfinals to Friendly

By JAMES A. McCRAY III

Staff writerFORT WASHINGTON The first shot of Tuesday night’s Class 3A South Region quarterfinals contest with the Friendly Patriots of Prince George’s County hosting the Chopticon Braves of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference was a three-point shot converted by Patriots guard Victor Blakey.

Blakey hit his first three. Two possessions later, he hit another. Then two more possessions, he hit another.

Blakey scored nine of his game-high 25 points in that first quarter and helped fourth-seeded Friendly earn the eventual 68-58 victory over fifth-seeded Chopticon, advancing it to the region semifinals.

“It made me feel good,” Blakey said of his hot start. “It made me want to take all of my open shots and I felt like I could make every shot.”

Friendly head coach Mark Edwards watched as the Patriots increased a one-point lead to 23-19 early in the second quarter on Blakey’s fourth and final three-point make of the game. The Patriots never trailed Chopticon again, slowly increasing its lead throughout.

“I think as the game went along, we got a little more confident,” Edwards said. “We got back more to what we do, which is man-to-man defense … and once we sped the tempo up a little bit, we became a lot more comfortable.”

Blakey was one of three Patriots to score in double figures, Jordan Gaither adding 13 points and Alijah Harvey adding 11, respectively.

“It feels good,” Blakey admitted of the win. “Through the regular season, we struggled a little bit, so advancing feels good as we try to end our season on a good note.”

Despite Chopticon being down 43-36 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Friendly took a strong grip of the contest with an 8-0 scoring run to end the third and enter the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead.

An 8-0 scoring run for Chopticon and head coach Terry Mumau in the fourth quarter came too late, bringing the Braves to within nine with only seconds remaining.

“Tonight, if we shut off the baseline, we probably win the game,” Mumau admitted. “We gave up the baseline 15 times and that’s it in short.”

Deangelo Bannister led the way for the Braves with 19 points and Nic Gagnon and Reginald Pittman added 15 and 14, respectively.

Chopticon ends the season with a 6-17 record, having dropped nine of its last 10 games. It tied for ninth in SMAC at 3-9 with Huntingtown and La Plata, both of whom also lost on Tuesday evening in the 3A South quarterfinals.

“There were a lot of close games that didn’t go our way,” Mumau said of the season. “Our record was not really indicative of the type of team that we were. There were a lot of games where a made shot here or there could have been the difference. … Just hope it goes better next year.”

The Patriots advance to face the region’s number-one seed in Thomas Stone.

Stone defeated ninth-seeded La Plata on Tuesday evening in the 3A South Region quarterfinals, 87-53.

“It’s always great to advance and it’s always good to live another day, that’s what the playoffs are all about,” Edwards said. “We played very hard. I am pleased with how hard we played and I am pleased how our seniors came together and made each other accountable.”

jmccray@somdnews.com

Friendly 68, Chopticon 58

Chopticon 14 13 9 22

Friendly 16 17 18 17

Chopticon: Bannister 19, Gagnon 15, Pittman 14, Miles 10

Friendly: Blakey 25, Gaither 13, Harley 11, Scott 9, Collins 4, Johnson 4, West 2

Free throws: Chopticon 11-14 (Bannister 5-6); Friendly 18-29 (Blakey 7-10, Scott 3-4)

3-point goals: Chopticon 5 (Pittman 3, Gagnon 2); Friendly 4 (Blakey 4)