Two first-year head coaches gathered their respective boys basketball teams and told them that it wasn’t going to be handed to them and one head coach wanted to make the most of his extra miles on the speedometer.
Chopticon took a 20-16 halftime lead into the locker room, but it was the Northern Patriots and new head coach Frank Moore who captured the 41-33 nonconference victory, Moore’s first at Northern.
Moore was all smiles, but said he’s still not used to the extra 20-minute bus ride back to his new school. After two consecutive Class 2A state titles with the Calvert girls basketball team in 21 years as head coach, Moore said he’s now taking on the task of building the program at Northern.
“After Wednesday’s game, I looked at them and said, ‘You know we’ve only been together for less than a month,’” Moore said, “and it’s not going to happen overnight to learn our offense and our defense. It’s going to take them a little while to get used to me, but hey, it’s the second game of the year and we got a win.”
Three Chopticon turnovers with less than three minutes left to play allowed the Patriots (1-1 overall) to go on a 10-point run. Northern led 39-28 with just 20 seconds remaining when starting forward Adam Gross added two baskets, his four points of the game.
“They need to learn the nuances of the game,” Moore said, “when to hold up and slow down. I told them we just needed a layup, no three-point shots. For being in that situation and just the second game of the season, I thought they handled it very well.”
It did take over three minutes in the first quarter before the scoreboard lit up with points in the defensive matchup.
Chopticon’s Reggie Pittman was fouled and went to the free-throw line to sink one of two attempts to get the scoring started. Pittman finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, a team high on the night.
Northern’s top shiner was D.J. Workcuff, who finished with a game-high 24 points and was tough to cover inside. Workcuff said his overall goal this season is to make it regional playoffs and hopefully states.
“We just wanted to get a win for our new coach, we hadn’t had a win in a while,” Workcuff said. “I’m trying to get used to him. He’s a good coach. We have a new defense this season and we’re just trying to get used to it. We’re trying to just hold the ball at the end there and try not to make dumb mistakes.”
Pittman said even though the Braves didn’t have their full team suited up, they still should have won.
“We still have to work hard out there,” Pittman said. “I think we were moving the ball and playing hard defense. We still have to improve every day.”
Nick Jerome, who added nine points for the Braves in the loss, wasn’t entirely happy with his clutch situation shooting, but said he and Pittman are committed to the team and the work it’s going to take.
“We want to go out and work hard and have a winning season,” Jerome said. “I just couldn’t come through when I needed to.”
Chopticon first-year head coach Glenn Larnerd Jr. said that his team is not going to be a one-man show. He likes the communication that he sees in his team as well as the effort that they’re displaying on the floor.
“We preach that [communication],” Larnerd said. “We’ve made great improvements just since Nov. 15. There’s still a lot of room for improvement. I was happy with the rebounding that got us our first-half lead. I knew it was going to be a close ballgame.”
The Braves (0-2) weren’t consistent in the second half and got away from what was working for them in the first half. Larnerd said he was missing his starting point guard as well as his starting small forward.
“I only have three returning starters,” he said. “That’s not an excuse and I can’t say the outcome would have been different. Nobody said this was going to be easy. It’s going to be a tough process. As long as they’re giving effort, I’m happy. We’ve come a long way so far. I’ve seen drastic improvements.”
Chopticon has a busy week with three games. It played North County on Monday night, a 61-35 loss, and will host Huntingtown tonight at 6:30 tonight in a nonconference matchup. The Braves will travel to Leonardtown in a 6:30 p.m. nonconference contest after the girls play first at 5 p.m.
Northern will host McDonough at 7 tonight and Calvert at 7 p.m. Friday after the girls play first at 5 p.m.