COLLEGE PARK – The Raiders are now just one win away from bringing home some state gold. On March 10, the Eleanor Roosevelt boys’ basketball team faced off against the Perry Hall Gators at the Xfinity Center in the 4A MPSSAA State Semifinals. The Raiders won 69-59 in a fierce and competitive battle, and could […]
COLLEGE PARK – The Raiders are now just one win away from bringing home some state gold.
On March 10, the Eleanor Roosevelt boys’ basketball team faced off against the Perry Hall Gators at the Xfinity Center in the 4A MPSSAA State Semifinals. The Raiders won 69-59 in a fierce and competitive battle, and could not be stopped due to their abundance of size, speed and talent.
The Raiders’ performance was no surprise to Perry Hall, who had been watching them on film since last Saturday, according to Head Coach George Panageotou.
“We knew we were in for a big challenge,” Panageotou said. “Not only with their size, but their experience.”
The first half showed little favor to either team. Both teams, sporting different playing styles, managed to execute effectively. Eleanor Roosevelt had a drive that could not be stopped, centered around star player Naji Marshall, who scored 27 points in the game, with 12 of those points coming on free throws.
The Gators, on the other hand, had an incredibly difficult time moving the ball inside. Perry Hall center Laquill Hardnett scored 19 points in the regional championship game against Springbrook, but was held in check with only two baskets on six attempts against Roosevelt.
“They were big, so they clogged the lane in,” Hardnett said. “It seemed like every time I drove, their whole team was there.”
Though Perry Hall had 15 offensive rebounds in the game (four more than Roosevelt), it paled compared to Roosevelt’s 25 defensive rebounds. The Raiders’ size advantage was making it difficult for the Gators to keep the ball alive off of missed shots.
Going into the locker room 32-32 at the half, the Raiders were determined to come back out with more passion and assertiveness. Eleanor Roosevelt Head Coach Brendan O’Connell said they “talked about turning up the defense a little bit,” and that they would try to limit the shots Perry Hall took.
Not only did Roosevelt succeed on that front by only allowing the Gators eight points in the third quarter, but the Raiders emerged with a newfound sense of momentum.
“They were getting down the court lightning fast,” said Panageotou, highlighting how big of a problem it became for his team. “At that point we just couldn’t keep up with their transition speed.”
The fourth quarter didn’t look too grim for Perry Hall, though, as the Gators put up 19 points and got the deficit down to nine points with two minutes to go. However, their downfall was attributed to their clock management. Perry Hall had used all of its timeouts early and could not keep from fouling Roosevelt. They racked up 17 fouls in the fourth quarter alone. Twenty-eight of Roosevelt’s 69 points came from free throws.
The Raiders look forward to the 4A State Championship on Saturday, March 12, where they will be playing Meade High School, the current defending state champions, at the Xfinity Center at 8 pm. It will be Roosevelt’s first appearance in the state championship since the 2013 tournament, when it won 61- 56 against Magruder High School.
O’Connell feels confident in his team’s ability going into Saturday.
“We’ll have a great practice, maybe fine tune a couple things,” O’Connell said. “But at this point I think these guys are ready to go.”