First-year Frederick Douglass High School girls basketball coach Derwin Faulkner said before the season that he wanted his girls to “get used to winning” and to let them know “its OK to have fun with basketball.”
Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Eagles are becoming more and more accustomed with winning and it is likely more fun than experiencing last year’s 7-14 mark. Douglass entered the week with a 10-9 record following a 63-43 upset victory against Crossland (12-6). Takela Barnes scored 18 points, 15 points came from Whitney Hall and 11 points came from Rachel Smith, who is leading the Eagles in scoring at 14.6 points per game, in the victory.
For the second time this season, the Riverdale Baptist School girls basketball team suffered back-to-back losses last week, but for the first time in a couple of seasons, the Crusaders suffered a setback to a team in Maryland.
Riverdale (21-5 through Sunday) lost to Bishop Ford Central Classic (N.Y.) on Feb. 2 by a 79-57 score, and then returned home and lost to Anne Arundel County’s Archbishop Spalding, 70-57, in overtime on Feb. 8. The last time the Crusaders lost to a team in the area it was against those same Cavaliers in 2010, the Washington Post reported.
The losses ended a six-game win streak had by Riverdale Baptist, which is led by Chloe Jackson (16.7 ppg), Chania Ray (13.7 ppg) and Auteaonna Gilmore (11.1 ppg).
There was at least one person who might have foreseen the sluggish start that the Henry A. Wise boys had to the season. It was coach Rob Garner.
The Pumas returned just three players from last year’s 16-9 team, none of which were starters, and only dynamic power forward Micah Till had any real experience.
“It’s a new team,” Garner said. “That’s just really what it comes down to.”
But Garner has found a way to make this new-look Wise team succeed. Since starting 2-3, with losses to Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles H. Flowers by a combined three points, Wise has gone 13-2 and made a rapid ascent to the top of the 4A League standings, behind only No. 1 Roosevelt.
“It took some time to understand one another and understand the system and the program and what’s needed to be competitive,” Garner said. “I knew we had some things that were good and we just had to pull it all together.”
Till, who has been recruited by numerous Division I schools for football and has received interest from George Mason for basketball, has been critical in the team’s success. In 20 games, he’s recorded 16 or 17 double-doubles, “or an overwhelming number like that,” Garner said.
There is no award for the team that almost wins every game, but if there was, Oxon Hill’s boys team would have clinched that title a long time ago.
On six occasions this season, the Clippers have competed with 4A powers, only to fall just shy of the finish line. They’ve lost 72-66 to Bowie, 80-73 to Suitland (with star guard Roddy Peters), 60-55 to Charles H. Flowers, 70-62 to Parkdale, 64-56 to Suitland (without Peters), and 60-54 to Parkdale.
Something had to give.
Finally, on Friday, Oxon Hill got a signature win by beating DuVal 62-56.
“That was a booster there,” said coach Sam Harris. His son, Magic, leads the team in scoring (15.4 points per game). “For one, we did recognize they were one of the top 20 teams and we had played them earlier. They just didn’t want to lose on senior night.”
Bishop McNamara at DeMatha, 7:30 p.m. Friday
The last matchup between these two came down to a one-point margin, won by McNamara.
No. 3 Potomac at Central, 7:15 p.m. Friday
Central has a chance to hand Potomac its first league loss since Dec. 11.
Presidential Hoopfest, all day, Saturday
A showcase featuring Friendship Collegiate, Montrose Christian, Miller School, No. 2 Riverdale Baptist, Benedictine and No. 5 Princeton Day.
Friendly at Gwynn Park, 7:15 p.m., Thursday
Yellow Jackets won the first meeting, 59-43, Jan. 15.
Northwestern at Oxon Hill, 7:15 p.m., Thursday
Clippers earned lone win in first matchup Jan. 22; Wildcats searching for first win.
County championship game, 5:15 p.m., Wednesday.