Jordan Radway stood at the free throw line and appeared to be relaxed despite the close score. His Paint Branch High School boys basketball team had gone basket-for-basket with Long Reach during the fourth quarter to maintain a lead just less than 10 points.
After a technical foul call against the Lightning’s Jeremiah Hill, Radway went to the line for four free throws with just less than three minutes remaining to give the Panthers their largest lead of the final quarter, securing a 72-60 victory in Thursday’s CKA/Paint Branch Invitational tournament championship game.
“We’re pretty calm because we have experience,” said Radway, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We’ve been through everything from last season, this season. It’s a real tight group. So we all go through everything together, pick each other up and just try to stay calm.”
The Panthers (8-0), who advanced to the finals by beating Bethesda-Chevy Chase 67-52 on Wednesday, used a mix of a pestering defense and outside shooting to breakdown the Lightning (5-4).
The Panthers won the turnover battle, 18-11, including six forced turnovers in the first quarter which led to easy baskets, including a breakaway one-handed dunk from Tre Galloway, and a 10-point lead at the break. Combine that with six 3-pointers — three from Desmond Harris — and Paint Branch never trailed after being down 7-6 in the first quarter.
“We don’t lose at home. That’s our motto,” Radway said. “My team, we’re all over the place. Everyone can finish. There are no weaknesses. You might stop me, but you’re not going to stop my teammates.”
Long Reach exposed a Panther weakness — defensive rebounding.
After forcing errant shots down the stretch, the Panthers were unable to box out the Lightning, who had several stout inside players, in the paint, leading to nine offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points in the second half.
“We’ve been working on that and it’s been a concern with as many guards as we have. But it gives us something to work on, so it’s a good thing,” Paint Branch coach Walter Hardy said. “We have to learn you have to get bodies on them and we have to be a little tougher.”
Paint Branch went 12-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, including a 7-for-8 performance from Radway.
The tournament comes before a stretch of conference games with games against Sherwood (3-3), James H. Blake (5-1) and Springbrook (5-1). Blake recently handed Springbrook its first loss, 60-53.
“Coming off this tournament, we played two tough games and we got them done and we’re going to carry it over to the next part of our season,” Radway said.
Paint Branch 72, Long Reach 60
Long Reach 13 12 12 23 — 60
Paint Branch 23 11 16 22 — 72
Long Reach — Jeremiah Hall 18, Brian Green 17, Avery Allmond 10, Alex Neil 6, Stacy Woodland 4, Shane Barr 3, Charlie Kwarteng 2
Paint Branch — Jordan Radway 21, Desmond Harris 14, Tre Galloway 10, Dom Ortiz 7, John Onukaogu 6, Justin Hackley 6, Armando Nwizu 4, Reuben Edwards 3, Tristian Toliver 1