SEABROOK – Last season’s high school basketball season brought in excitement with new talents appearing and underdogs taking home championships. Before this year’s season kicks off on Dec. 5-13, the Prince George’s Sentinel Sports Department highlighted three programs from the girls and boys divisions that can standout this season.
Oxon Hill (23-2)
After a disappointing end to last season, losing in county championships and the regional semifinals, Oxon Hill has many of their core players intact to make a deep run this year. Shooting will be key this year for the Lady Clippers with the return of 3-point specialist Mossi Staples and guard Crystal Monteiro. Their depth will be tested but Oxon Hill’s team play will propel them forward to compete for county, regional and state gold this year.
Guard Iyanna Warren, the Howard University commit, averaged a team-high 15.6 points a game and will look to pair up with Staples to prepare Oxon Hill for a postseason run this season.
“I think these games will be extremely important for us and I just think these girls are capable of having a winning season again but hopefully we go further this time,” said Head Coach Devone Williams on the Lady Clippers’ early slate of games against competitive competition.
Riverdale Baptist (23-5)
The Crusaders have reloaded quickly despite losing seniors Shakira Austin and Lauren Ebo. Expect Riverdale to be a competitive side with point guard Yanni Hendley and wing players Kaylah Ivey and Synia Johnson leading the way offensively.
The junior power forward, Taniyah Greene, stepped up for Riverdale, recently providing a double-double performance of 11 points and 14 rebounds in a 61-24 road win over Markham from Ontario, Canada on Dec. 1.
“By the time we finished the last game up there, I just know we can beat anybody now. We are going to surprise a lot of people,” said Head Coach Mike Bozeman following the Crusaders’ performance against Markham.
Losing last year’s top leading scorers, Sasha Francis, Brianna Jones and Tania White, creates a tall task for the Lady Lions to make their fourth straight state championship game. However, Head Coach Ayana Ball-Ward managed last season to success with a relatively new roster and can to do the same this year.
A player to watch is guard Alexia Hackett. The sophomore made several spot appearances as a freshman but towards the latter half of the season, provided more sturdy performances. She was one of four players to score in double-figures (10) in Largo’s state semifinal win against Coppin Academy on March 9.
A retooling year turned successful for the Stags as they finished with winning two postseason championships, including their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) Tournament title in seven years. This year’s DeMatha team is already 2-0 to start the new campaign as they look poised for another long championship run with an experience roster featuring promising juniors Hunter Dickinson and Earl Timberlake Jr.
Six-foot-four senior guard Justin Moore bounced back from an ACL tear in 2017 to average 17.1 points a game. Despite several college offers, including from Cincinnati, Maryland and Notre Dame, the DeMatha star signed his letter of intent to Villanova on Nov. 16 before the start of the season.
“We play very tough and offensively tough. We play great together, we are unselfish, and we have what it takes (to win games).” Moore said.
Rock Creek (29-8)
After claiming the Capital Beltway title last year, the Eagles are looking to start fresh after Head Coach Chris Cole departed for Bryant University. Former Thurgood Marshall High School Head Coach Lafayette Dublin arrives to take the helm with a roster filled with several transfers with division one offers.
After being named on the 2018 WCAC All Conference Honorable Mention Team last season for his time with St. John’s, guard Delonnie Hunt has moved to become a featured player in Rock Creek this year.
“My expectations are to compete at a high level, and be competitive. We want to be a top team in the area this year. Playing these top teams is going to help us by the time were in conference games,” Dublin said on his first season in charge at Rock Creek.
Eleanor Roosevelt (18-6)
The Raiders were seconds away from heading back to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016 but were stunned by a determined Bladensburg side on March 3.
This year, Head Coach Brendan O’Connell has reloaded his roster with returning players, like shooting guard Isaiah Gross, and transfers including senior guard Kyle Rose coming from Rock Creek Christian Academy.
Senior shooting guard Cameron Brown was vital in Roosevelt’s resurgence last year, averaging 18.9 points a game, and will provide stability with all the new additions to the roster.