BLADENSBURG – It was set up to be an emotional affair for Sherwyn Devonish. One year ago, the six-foot point guard used to call Bladensburg High School his home.
Fast-forward one year later, and Devonish is wearing blue and yellow in front of the Burgundy faithful after transferring to Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in the summer. To top it off, he was visiting during the school’s Senior Day, a celebration he would have participated in if he were still a Mustang.
“I was kind of nervous a little bit (to start),” the senior said. “But once you start to get the hang of it and all the butterflies came out, I just started to play basketball.”
The senior blocked out most of the noise, scoring a game-high 22 points. Together with an impressive team scoring performance, the Pumas spoiled the party to win their third game in a row, securing an 80-57 victory at Bladensburg on Feb. 8.
After a slow start, including missing his first two shots, Devonish broke free in the second half, scoring at will while feeding the ball to his teammates. For Wise Head Coach Robert Garner, seeing his senior guard break out of a funk to lead his team to two separate scoring runs in the third quarter was pivotal in Wise’s (15-4) victory.
“(Devonish) wants to do so well all the time,” Garner said. “But he really wanted to have a good game today, and we wanted him to play well tonight too…There is so much on his shoulders, and he needs just to relax and let the team help one another out.”
The Mustangs (9-11) were looking to establish itself as an equal rival to their Upper Marlboro counterparts but had no answers in defending their shooters. Three Pumas finished scoring in double-figures, including junior Fred Crowell who scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half.
Bladensburg standout Daniel Oladapo did not make it easy, cleaning up missed shots while taking advantage of their undersized backcourt. The senior’s double-double performance, 20 points and 11 rebounds kept the Mustangs within 12 at halftime.
However, Wise senior Terrance Gibbons stunned the home crowd with a power dunk, one of three, that reenergized the Pumas into their first of two scoring drives to start the second half. The six-foot-seven forward muscled his way through his taller opposition to score a season-high 14 points.
Since missing training camp due to injury, Gibbons was slowly building to have a standout game as he did against Bladensburg, Garner said.
“I knew I had to come out and be strong offensively and defensively because, in our last game (against Suitland), I fouled out,” Gibbons said. “So, I tried to get open on and off the ball, and we all came together as a team tonight.”
Wise’s scoring runs in the third, totaling up to 20-8, extended their lead as high as 38 points. Devonish scored back-to-back fastbreak layups, ending the quarter with seven points, as the Pumas roared in delight at their teammate’s homecoming success.
“It all about staying poised because it was their senior night but to us, it’s just a regular game, and we are fighting for first place,” Devonish said. “So we had to come out, play basketball and do what we do best.”
As the Pumas found their shooting groove, Bladensburg struggled to score a basket and the visitors began to pull away. Despite Bladensburg getting more offensive rebounds, 19-6, they could not take advantage, especially in the third quarter, where only Oladapo (12) and junior guard Tyshaun Walker (2) scored points.
“They had a better defensive plan,” Oladapo said. “Obviously, I want to score, but I need to rely on my teammates a little more, so that’s an all-around situation that needs addressing.”
The victory puts the Pumas at pace with Eleanor Roosevelt at the top of the 4A division, with the first-place team earning a berth in the County Championships on Feb. 21. With the title game taking place on their home court, Wise would not mind winning a trophy before the state playoffs. However, Garner stressed patience and focusing on each opponent will lead to success.
“It would be nice to go (to the county championships), but it is one game at a time for us,” Gibbons said.