HYATTSVILLE – In one of the higher profile games during the inaugural DMV Live Period showcase event on June 22, the Bishop McNamara High School boys basketball team showed it can hold on to a lead as they defeated rivals Riverdale Baptist for a 72-62 victory.
The showcase game was a part of a set of matchups from June 21-23 that featured programs from all over Maryland and Virginia. DMV Live period, hosted by DeMatha Catholic High School, gives student-athletes the opportunity to play in front of several college coaches and evaluators of all levels for a chance to be recruited to play after high school.
In a rematch between the two rivals, McNamara started off strong, going on a 17-8 lead after forward Terrence Butler connected with a 3-pointer. The Mustangs extended their lead into the double-digits midway through the first half after a 3-pointer from guard Brendt Johnson and a 3-point play from guard Ed Johnson Jr.
Facing a larger deficit, Riverdale Baptist fought back, going on 11-0 run late in the opening period. The scoring spurt put the Crusaders back in the lead by one point, 32-31, with guard Guy Fauntleroy leading the way with six points during the run. Fauntleroy scored a game-high 26 points.
However, McNamara reclaimed their lead with a 7-0 run of their own, capped off with a slam dunk by Butler at the buzzer before halftime.
Coming into the contest, the Mustangs needed to replace the production and leadership of seniors Johnathon McGriff (St. John’s University) and Mekhi Long (University of Rhode Island). For guard Aaron Russell, the roles are important to fill but it will take some time for the team to adjust without McGriff and Long.
“Those are pretty big shoes to fill,” said Russell, “(Coach Keith) Veney has us working hard.”
Until someone stands out during summer league or preseason practice, the Mustangs will look to working on a committee approach and playing a more passing-filled offense. Against Riverdale Baptist, the Mustangs assisted on 13 of their 28 field goals which helped three players to score in double-figures.
The Crusaders came back in the second half, cutting their deflect by four points thanks to Fauntleroy’s 3-point play. He had the chance to make it a one-possession game in the subsequent transition possession but his layup attempt rolled out of the rim. Johnson made the Crusaders pay with five straight points including a pull-up 3-pointer and a layup to extend their advantage.
In the final moments of the second half, Crusaders guard Anthony Harrison cut McNamara’s lead to 66-62 after knocking down a 3-pointer. Meanwhile, Riverdale Baptist could not capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Russell would take advantage as the rising senior scored off a leaning jumper and then collected a steal and dropped a layup on the other end on the following possession to effectively end the contest.
“It was a good experience getting our confidence together for the season,” Johnson said. “And for our new players just working together.”
Johnson scored a team-high 18 points while center Favour Aire added an 11 point, 12 rebound double-double performance for McNamara.
“We just have to lock in and match their momentum,” Johnson said, “Every time they went to the basket, we could’ve took charges, but we jabbed and couldn’t really help. So, we learned from our experiences.
Despite the loss, Riverdale Baptist saw improvement as they continue to acclimate with Fauntleroy and forward Devon Savage, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. The two transfers previously played together at St. John’s College High School, with Fauntleroy transferring to Rock Creek Christian Academy for his sophomore season. The rising juniors look to carry the scoring load for the Eagles.
“It’s been a lot (with) coaches, new teammates,” said Fauntleroy on acclimating to a new program, “I’m just getting comfortable with my teammates, learning each other and learning their coaching style.”
Meanwhile, for McNamara, the win was a confidence booster. While beating your rival in the summer does not mean much, to do it in front of college coaches showed that the young Mustangs are ready for big moments before they have to compete in the competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
“It’s been a good experience,” Russell said. “(This was) good exposure for both teams.”