HYATTSVILLE – Late in the fourth quarter with their opponents scoring their last three baskets, Bowie High School senior Jordan Harris knew it was time to take charge.
As the shot clock set to end, the 5-foot-10 guard received an open pass at the left side of the 3-point arch and converted the shot.
A member of the audience audibly yelled at Harris, daring him to do it again. Harris obliged with the request on the following possession when he went back to the same spot and launched a booming shot, giving Bowie an 11-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Harris could not help but smile at the fan’s direction as he headed back on defense.
“It felt great,” Harris said of the moment. “It is more momentum (for us) to keep going and keep going; it’s fun.”
“It makes the game way easier when you have a shooter in the baseline, and you can just kick it out to him, it just makes the game way more funnier and easier to for us to win,” fellow guard Kyree Freeman-Davis said of his teammate.
Harris’s second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, seventh of the game, was the dagger the Bulldogs needed to end J. L. Mann High School (S.C.). Three players score into double-figures to give Bowie a 68-62 victory in the opening round of the DeMatha Christmas Tournament on Dec. 27.
With the win, the Bulldogs continue their impressive start, winning all six of their games and have not suffered a loss this season. Much of their success has come from their 3-point shooting.
Against Mann, Bowie connected with 13 shots from behind the arc, a rate similar to last year’s squad. Despite losing guard Isaiah Burke, the team has embraced constant ball-movement to find the open shooter for easier scoring opportunities, Bowie Head Coach Tremaine Price said.
“We feel like Golden State out there,” Freeman-Davis, who scored 12 points, said. “It’s fun, and I like giving my teammates the ball and half the time, I know it is going in, and I can turn around and get back on defense. And that is how it is with us.”
The senior-heavy squad is led by Harris, who finished with a game-high 21 points, all 3-pointers. Senior guard Devyn Toler provided Bowie a healthy advantage to start the game after hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter.
The lead would grow in the second quarter as Bowie pushed forward, going on a 12-1 run, led by Freeman-Davis’s aggressive play and five points in the period. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, the Bulldogs limited second-chance opportunities by collecting rebounds and starting several fast break opportunities.
“We have a lot of players that can create for each other,” Price said. “When we are moving the ball, it is pretty hard to guard us especially when you have players like Devyn Toler and Jordan Harris hitting 3’s the way they were doing it in the first half.”
Former George Mason University star and current Mann Head Coach Michael Morrison credits the Bulldogs for their physical play, but his team did not give six-foot-one center Cooper Fowler a chance to enter the game early enough. The towering Cooper only scored one of his 13 points in the first half.
However, roles would flip in the second half as Mann (7-5) quickly advanced to a 7-0 run and dropped their deficit down as low as five. Junior guard Jordan Berry added seven of his team-high 19 points in the second half as Mann continued to build momentum for a comeback.
But the Patriots could not overcome Bowie’s lead following Harris’ shooting performance. While Fowler powered through to score 10 points in the final quarter, Bowie’s defense blocked two of his shots and reversed them for easy points. The Bulldogs capped off the win scoring six of their final nine free throws, keeping their advantage manageable in the final moments.
“Overall, we were a little shell-shocked because of the atmosphere, different environment, getting used to a shot clock and all the little things that we do not usually play within South Carolina but I was proud of the way they came and competed,” Morrison said. “I’m glad with how we fought back in the game, but I wished we would have done better execution-wise to give ourselves a better chance to win.”
For the players, the win was another statement that should propel them forward for the rest of the season. After tournament play, their first test will be a road game against rivals Eleanor Roosevelt on Jan. 4. With minor defensive and shot efficiency improvements, the Bulldogs believe their good form can carry over to the second half of the season and into the state playoffs.
“It fuels our fire that people don’t talk about us,” Harris said. “They do not talk about us, but we are going to show them.”