HYATTSVILLE – A Capitol Hoops Summer League matchup between Eleanor Roosevelt High School and St. Mary’s Ryken High School looked to be in favor of the Knights at one point but wound up coming down to the final possessions of the game in hard-fought efforts by both teams.
Though St. Mary’s Ryken’s early 23-point lead became a two-point deficit late in the game, it held on to secure a narrow victory, 69-65, at DeMatha Catholic’s Morgan and Kathy Wootten Gymnasium on June 8.
St. Mary’s began the afternoon blazing. Its uptempo style of play, high energy, relentless trap defense and efficiency in transition led to a 32-9 advantage with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. Guard Devin Ceaser opened the game with eight of the Knights’ first 10 points, most of which came on fast breaks.
After starting the game with numerous turnovers, struggling to find a rhythm and being held to only one field goal in the first six minutes, the Raiders responded by concluding the first half with a 14-7 scoring run.
Roosevelt’s momentum continued into the second half, as it kept chipping away at the deficit. They finally tied the game, 58-58, on a 3-pointer by rising senior Quinton Mincey.
On the very next possession, guard Olumide Lewis stole the ball and finished a layup on the other end to give the Raiders their first lead, 60-58, with 3:49 remaining, capping off a 25-point turnaround.
Over the next few minutes, both teams traded a few buckets to keep the score close. With a little less than a minute left in regulation, Mincey made his first free throw and finished a putback layup after missing his second attempt to put Roosevelt up by one.
Down by a point with 40 seconds left, St. Mary’s Jules Bikoy had the ball on the right wing. The 6-foot-3 guard took a few dribbles before he pulled up a few inches beyond the 3-point arc and drilled the jumper to give the Knights a two-point lead with 20 seconds on the game clock.
On the next play, the Raiders’ game-tying field goal attempt was rebounded and given back to Bikoy, who flushed an emphatic two-handed dunk to seal the win for St. Mary’s.
Ceaser, an rising junior, said his team’s “scrappy” style of play had worked well for them in the summer league, especially considering their lack of size.
“The key to sealing the win today was just being poised,” said Ceaser, a returning starter. “Everybody is going to make their runs. We made our run. They made their run… So whenever Jules Bikoy hit the big shot that just brought it in and sealed the deal.”
Bikoy scored a team-high 18 points Ceaser scored 16 points to go with three assists and four rebounds.
The Knights are now a perfect 5-0 in Capitol Hoops competition thus far. Head Coach Walter Booth said he has been enjoying the summer league experience, seeing it as a quality opportunity for his team to “test” themselves against top teams in the area.
“I think they came out ready, they came out focused, and I think with their defensive intensity, they jumped on them early,” said Booth, who is approaching his third year as head of the program. He also acknowledged strong performances by Ceaser, Bikoy, Aaron Jasper and Kenny McKoy.
“They’ve been through the ups and downs of knowing teams are gonna make their shots, and we gotta respond. And we finally showed that we can respond today.”
Roosevelt, which is led by Head Coach Brendan O’Connell, is coming off a state championship victory in March. Their summer league roster features a hardworking group of young guys, said Mincey.
“We just should have come out harder, and that’s all that was. We had to fight back,” said Mincey, a 6-foot-5 forward who led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He added that “taking practice one step at a time and just executing” will be crucial aspects of the development process for the remainder of the summer league.
“We gotta do the little things like play hard and execute. So we just have to work on hitting more shots, getting to the rim at will, making free throws, layups — little things,” he said.
Roosevelt’s Jahari Simon led all scorers with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting from deep. The Knights shot 50% from the field while the Raiders shot 37.7%; St. Mary’s also edged Roosevelt in rebounding, 35-34.
“We just got ourselves in a hole. We got back, but when you dig yourself into a hole like that it’s hard to get back,” said Roosevelt Assistant Coach Emmanuel Matey. “They (St. Mary’s) just came out really hard, and our kids didn’t match their intensity… They just made the plays and we didn’t. They hit a big shot, we came down and tried to execute. We didn’t finish. The ball just bounced their way today.”