UPPER MARLBORO – Tuesday night’s battle between Eleanor Roosevelt and Gwynn Park, two teams with three or fewer losses, was a fitting end to the county basketball schedule. The 19-3 Raiders continued their county dominance in boys’ basketball with a 72-63 win over the 21-2 Yellow Jackets and in turn won the Prince George’s County […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Tuesday night’s battle between Eleanor Roosevelt and Gwynn Park, two teams with three or fewer losses, was a fitting end to the county basketball schedule.
The 19-3 Raiders continued their county dominance in boys’ basketball with a 72-63 win over the 21-2 Yellow Jackets and in turn won the Prince George’s County basketball championship.
Both teams played extremely well in their final game before the area playoffs begin and it was a much needed test for both teams as they try to prove that they are serious contenders in the 4A and 3A state playoffs.
“I think we all feel the same,” Gwynn Park Head Coach Mike Glick said. “We’re zero and zero and we’ve got to get ready for the playoffs. I think Roosevelt has an excellent team and might be one of the better teams we played all year. That’s going to make us a better team and the most important thing is nobody got injured.”
Gwynn Park started fast out of the gate, jumping to a 5-0 lead on two quick baskets from Kollin Mitchell. Still, the Raiders answered quickly with an 11-2 run to go up 11-7. They would lead 15-10 after the first quarter.
“Our guys were ready to go today and responded, which I was excited about because that was a tough loss (to Bowie on Feb. 16). They haven’t lost sight of what the goal is going into playoffs Monday and that’s important,” Roosevelt Head Coach Brendan O’Connell said.
Victor Okafor, Trent Bishop and Jaden Faulkner were huge inside for the Raiders. The smaller Gwynn Park team did all it could in facing the size disadvantage, but couldn’t stop Okafor from scoring 16 points, while Faulkner added 11. Bishop led all scorers with 19.
“I thought our big guys played very well tonight and I thought Naji (Marshall) did well tonight because Gwynn Park is really good at taking your best player away. We knew they’d do some different stuff and he was patient and I thought had a great all-around game,” O’Connell said.
Gwynn Park started to regain momentum in the second quarter by dictating most of the play and kept Roosevelt star Naji Marshall off the score sheet. However, with two minutes remaining in the half, Marshall took over by scoring eight points and gave Roosevelt a 34-28 halftime lead.
“I just let the game come to me,” said Marshall, who finished with 17 points. “I didn’t try to force the issue and just jack up shots. I just took my time and if I saw something open I would try to take it. I just see openings and if I land on two feet and I’m still open of course I’m going to take the shot.”
Gwynn Park gave Roosevelt a tremendous push in the second half behind leading scorer Aaron Parker, who finished with 17 points, but the Raiders refused to relinquish their lead by the end of the third quarter (52-43).
Both teams played their best quarter of the game in the fourth, scoring 20 points each. But the Yellow Jackets fizzled in attempting a comeback, as they missed numerous open shots and were out rebounded by the Raiders.
“I was really proud of how our kids battled and played until the end. They showed a lot of heart. We just got to knock down open shots and make free throws. I thought Roosevelt’s charge taking was incredible and that was a huge difference in the game,” Glick said.
Eleanor Roosevelt will gladly take the victory after its disappointing 55-52 loss to Bowie where the Raiders performed very poorly against a school they had previously beaten. The loss to Bowie was the Raiders’ first loss in 18 games.
Roosevelt will play the winner of Suitland and Charles H. Flowers in the second round of the 4A MPSSAA playoffs. Meanwhile, Gwynn Park will play the winner of Crossland and Central in the second round of the 3A MPSSAA playoffs.