- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Tallying just five points throughout an entire game seems inconceivable for Michael Briscoe, especially considering the dynamic performance from the Thomas Stone star point guard Friday versus the same McDonough Rams in the rematch.
As if Briscoe needed to prove his offensive struggles of Jan. 4 were an anomaly, he was explosive from start to finish in his latest foray against McDonough, exceeding that point total less than six minutes into the game by draining his second three-pointer amid a trio he sank beyond the arc within a span of 2 minutes and 9 seconds in the opening quarter.
The result was a memorable night for Briscoe, unlike his first meeting against McDonough this season.
Briscoe sparkled with a career-best 34 points on 10-of-17 shooting (59 percent) from the field while going 11 of 17 (65 percent) at the free-throw line, as he carried the Cougars to a 76-63 victory over visiting McDonough for their eighth straight win.
In the third quarter with 3:20 left, Briscoe surpassed 1,000 career points in fitting fashion, showcasing his all-around elite skill set, by stealing a pass and finishing on the break while absorbing the foul.
His milestone scoring moment was acknowledged with a special announcement to the crowd; the game temporarily stopped for Briscoe to receive an applause and hugs and handshakes from his coaching staff and teammates before he drained the free throw to give Stone its first lead of the second half, 44-41.
Stone (13-8, 8-0 SMAC) never looked back.
“I didn’t even know I was close to 1,000 [career points]. Coach never told me; it was a surprise,” said Briscoe, who needed 18 points Friday to join the select few in Stone’s program history to boast such an accomplishment. “I was just concentrating on the game [when the announcement was made about my 1,000th point]. We started the first half a little slow, and Coach told us to pick up the defense and work harder and that’s what we did, disrupt their offense. And we came away with a win.”
Briscoe is averaging 19.4 points this season, but he’s been particularly impressive during Stone’s eight-game win streak, scoring a full point above his season’s average. Seven of the wins have been by double digits.
And in the last four games, Briscoe has scored no less than 20, averaging 25 1/2 points per game.
“Coach told me before the game to let the game come to me and don’t try to force anything,” he added. “That’s what I did. I just wanted to work harder and not lose anymore [after the first game against McDonough on Jan. 4].”
In stark contrast to his previous game against McDonough (9-9, 3-5), Briscoe made scoring look easy on Friday. Briscoe’s output against McDonough on Jan. 4 was the last time his Stone team lost, that being a 48-43 nonconference shortcoming.
“He tried to impact the game over there [at McDonough], and it just didn’t happen, and he couldn’t be the [Briscoe] he can be because nothing was falling for him,” Stone Head Coach Dale Lamberth said. “I thought he let the game come to him tonight. The way he’s playing now, we need him to play like that. There’s no doubt about it. He’s capable of playing like that. He took whatever they gave him. He played well; he played great defense. I thought he hustled on both ends of the court tonight.”
Briscoe’s 1,000th point was part of a 22-3 run during the final 4:32 of the third that enabled Stone to take control of the game, with a 55-43 advantage with seven seconds left in the quarter.
Stone senior guard Tony Doublin was the team’s only other player to have double digits offensively, with 14 points.
McDonough led 31-29 at intermission and surged ahead 40-33 with 4:45 left in the third, poised to sweep the co-leading Cougars of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. North Point is the only other perfect team in league play.
The game took a turn for the worse for McDonough midway through the third when senior standout point guard Marquel Austin picked up his fourth personal foul and was relegated to the bench until the 6:34 mark of the final quarter. McDonough saw a 41-37 lead turn into a 63-47 deficit while Austin watched from the bench.
Briscoe and Austin traded impact plays until foul trouble doomed the McDonough playmaker.
Austin finished with 12 points. Teammate Rashad Kennedy led McDonough with 13 points, while Laron Swann also scored in double digits with 10 points.
“The shots [Briscoe] was taking last time [against us], he was missing. He just made them [tonight]. This is his court,” a disgruntled Austin said, unhappy with the fouls that went against him in a game that featured a lot of whistles. “The refs took over the game, so there was nothing we could do. If I didn’t get in foul trouble, we were going to win, pointblank.”
“Last year, they really beat us real bad. They beat us twice last year. We were trying to beat them twice [this season]. It didn’t happen.”
Briscoe was at his best in the second half, going a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and hitting 9 of his 13 foul shots.
In addition to his huge scoring output, Briscoe swallowed up nine rebounds.
“He played a terrific game,” Stone junior forward Jordan Battle said. Battle had all eight of his points in the second half. “Hard work paid off for him tonight. I don’t think [any player on the team knew he was that close to 1,000 points entering tonight]. I was proud of my teammate.”
Shawn Perkins, who graduated in the 1990s, is Stone’s all-time leading scorer with 1,482 points. Currently, Nate Flowers, who graduated in the mid-2000s, is second all-time with about 1,130 points, according to Lamberth.