The couple hundred or so fans casually sprawled out across the Northwestern High School gym on Saturday for the Presidential Hoopfest finally got what they had been waiting for throughout the first 18 minutes of the Princeton Day Academy vs. Middleburg game, the third of four on the day: Aquille Carr.
“Everybody come out here to see Aquille play,” teammate Anton Waters said. “It’s like, they come to see him play, we got to show them how we play as a team.”
After Carr went uncharacteristically silent throughout the entire first half, failing to muster a single point, dribbling the ball off his feet and having his pocket picked on several occasions, the microscope was on the Storm to prove that they are more than just Carr, which they did, beating Middleburg 91-78 despite a sluggish start from the electrifying Seton Hall signee. Finally, however, after what seemed like an eternity of static anticipation, Carr delivered that signature Crimstopper moment.
He took an entry pass at half court two minutes into the third quarter, froze a defender with a slick double-crossover and soared through the lane, shifting, twisting and spinning through a pair of Middleburg defenders before rolling in a layup-and-one to knot the score at 40-40.
In all rights and purposes, the game was tied, but it was all over from there.
“He can change the game,” Storm coach Van Whitfield said. “He gives you the ability to score in bunches and that’s what we saw tonight.”
Waters had personally kept the Storm in it throughout the first half, scoring 12 points including a monstrous dunk over Brandon Alston that had the announcer crowing “ohhh Anton Waters.” But the Princeton Day offense that has eclipsed the century-mark on six occasions this season failed to show its true colors until Carr showed his.
“In my opinion he’s the best player in the area,” Whitfield said. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s got great court vision, he can shoot from the outside, he can get to the basket, he’s got incredible hangtime, he’s the whole package.”
After his coast-to-coast layup for his first points of the game nearly 18 minutes in, Carr went on to score 25 points — 15 in the third quarter — dish out seven assists and finish as the game’s Most Valuable Player, beating out Waters, who finished with 27, for the award. Brandon Better added a quiet 16 points to complement Carr in the backcourt.
“He really stepped up for us,” Whitfield said. “Brandon, every game, we get looks for Brandon.”
Momentum-wise, the win is especially big for the Storm as they are tied for first with National Christian and Riverdale Baptist in the Capital Beltway Athletic Association, a startup league in which the top two of six teams receive first-round byes for playoffs, which begin next Thursday.
“How we’re playing, we’re the best team out there,” said Waters, who has garnered interest from Radford, George Washington, Qunnipiac, Citadel, and “a whole lot of schools,” Whitfield said. “It’s like, no team that can beat us.”
Princeton Day 91, Middleburg 78
Princeton Day (30-10; 8-2): 7 25 32 27—91
Middleburg (18-11; 0-0): 12 22 22 22—78