UPPER MARLBORO – Woodrow Wilson High School of Washington, D.C., left the fourth annual HoopBuzz Invite with a 58-55 victory over Riverdale Baptist School in a classic private vs. public school showdown that went down the wire on Jan. 4.
Both teams switch leads multiple times throughout the contest, with Riverdale Baptist setting the tone with a quick five-point lead early in the first quarter. Senior forward Joshua Walker ignited the crowd with a poster dunk for two of his 10 points, which was followed by a 3-pointer by junior guard Guy Fauntleroy as the Crusaders led 17-12.
However, Wilson Head Coach Angelo Hernandez implemented a strategy to keep Fauntleroy heavily guarded while playing gritty defense against Riverdale’s potent offense. The junior finished with only 17 points, acknowledging that Wilson’s defense forced him to keep shooting jump shots versus driving through a lane for a layup.
“What we try to do is stay together,” Hernandez said, “ I think that’s the difference in tonight and some of the games we lost. We individualized ourselves; we tried to do stuff that’s not what we do.”
The Tigers took advantage of the Crusaders’ lack of scoring by going on a 9-0 run, led by both senior guard Miasiah Brown and sophomore forward Darren Buchanon. Brown, who finished with a game-high 20 points, connected with a 3-pointer while Buchanon provided an assist on senior forward Philip Carter’s three-point play as Wilson led 26-19 midway through the second quarter. However, Fauntleroy fired back with two 3-pointers as part of an 11-3 run to recapture a one-point lead at halftime.
The Crusaders carried that momentum change into the second half and built a 41-35 lead, their biggest of the evening, after Fauntleroy gave junior wing Devon Savage a scoop pass for a layup.
With a little over three minutes left in the third quarter, Fauntleroy met with Buchanon at the top of the key for their first of several arguments during dead ball situations. Both players know each other very well after playing for Team Durant’s 16U squad on the Nike EYBL circuit. While acknowledging their friendships postgame, both Buchanon and Fauntleroy said that they did not want to lose to the other.
“That’s my man, we hang out with each other outside of school,” Fauntleroy said about Buchanon, “Off the court, we’re friends. On the court, no friends, we have to compete.”
While the shouting was competitive banter, it allowed the Tigers to reel off an 8-0 run, including a steal and slam dunk from Buchanon as Wilson held onto a one-possession lead.
In the fourth quarter, both teams traded buckets and the lead. Following a 3-pointer from senior guard Walter Burks, the Tigers tied the game when Buchanon scored a second-chance layup. Brown then stole an errant pass and a layup to give Wilson 58-55 lead with less than a minute remaining.
The Crusaders still had a chance to win the game after forcing a turnover with 15 seconds remaining. Fauntleroy dribbled to the right-wing, creating as much separation as possible before stepping back and taking a shot. The ball bounced off the rim, and the game appeared over. However, officials called a foul on the Tigers during senior guard Thomas Weave’s 3-point attempt in the dying moments.
Weaver missed the first free throw but made the second attempt. Head Coach Travis Lyons called a timeout to set up a play for a miss on the third attempt, according to Riverdale Baptist players. Even though Crusaders prepared for the miss, Weaver accidentally converted the shot. Wilson collected the ball and ran out the clock for the victory.
“It’s a statement win,” Brown said, “To show everybody in (Washington, D.C.) that Wilson hasn’t gone anywhere yet.”
The Crusaders will look to bounce back on the road against New Hope Academy on Jan. 7 before returning home to face National Christian on Jan. 10.