La Plata boys fall to Eastern

War­riors fall short in sec­ond half

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

When the host La Plata boys bas- ket­ball team started the third quar- ter well to forge its big­gest lead of the night against vis­it­ing Eastern (D.C.) High on Wed­nes­day evening, the War­riors look poised to head into the Christ­mas break with a vic­tor y.

But the vis­it­ing Ram­blers ended the frame on an 18-7 run to take a 47-43 lead into the fourth quar­ter and they used a sim­i­lar surge over the last five min­utes of the con­test to earn a 76-67 vic­tory over the War­riors. Four La Plata play­ers scored in dou­ble fig­ures, led by Me­rion Devine, II with 22, but that was not enough to off­set 28 points from Eastern’s Devon John­son and an­other 16 from Jerome John­son.

“We’re young and we went through a few lapses where we played like a young team,” said La Plata (3-3) fifth-year coach James Dou­glas, whose team will play Mt. He­bron on Wed­nes­day in the first of two games at the North­east tour­na­ment dur­ing the break. “I thought we did a good job of get­ting the ball into [cen­ter Johnatahn Gra- ham] at times, but then we forced a few passes into him and turned the ball over.”

Eastern’s late surge to claim the lead at the end of the third quar­ter did not carry over into the early stages of the fi­nal frame, howev- er. La Plata stayed close thanks to buck­ets from Devine and Ma­teo Nunez, then Devine in­ter­cepted a pass near mid­court and raced vir­tu­ally un­con­tested for a dunk that gave the War­riors a brief 52-51 lead with six min­utes re­main­ing.

Two free throws from Ryan Calvert gave La Plata a 54-53 lead with 5:31 re­main­ing, but the Ram­blers dom­i­nated the game from that point. Devon John­son hit two three-point field goals over the next two min­utes to lift the Ram­blers to a 63-57 lead. La Plata got within three later on a jumper by Lazarus Sut­ton, but the vis­i­tors scored the last six points of the game to pull away.

At var­i­ous times in each of the first three quar­ters, La Plata ap­peared to have con­trol of the con­test. Af­ter spot­ting the vis­i­tors an early 5-0 lead, La Plata re­sponded with a pro­longed 14-5 run to forge a 14-10 lead that ap­peared safe un­til Devon John­son made his pres­ence known by nail­ing a des­per­a­tion three-point field goal from be­yond his own three-point line as the buzzer sounded to end the quar­ter.

Un­fazed by John­son’s long buzzer-beater to end the opener, La

Plata re­gained con­trol of the con­test at the out­set of the sec­ond pe­riod on buck­ets in­side from Gra- ham and jumpers from Devine, Nunez and De­vote Proc­tor. The War- ri­ors ex­tended the lead to seven be­fore Michael Brown hit a jumper just be­fore the buzzer to trim the La Plata half­time lead to 30-25.

La Plata again started the third quar­ter in sharp fash­ion as Lazarus Sut­ton hit a three-pointer and Devine con­verted a steal into a layup to again push the War­riors lead to seven at 36-29. But the re­main­der of the quar­ter be­longed to Eastern as Jerome John- son hit two three-point­ers and Oliver hit an­other to lift the Ram­blers to a 4743 lead head­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

“That was a typ­i­cal game from Jerome,” said Eastern (3-5) coach Em- manuel Kakulu, whose team will play three games in the Mount Ver- non tour­na­ment over the break. “That was not a typ­i­cal game from Dev- on. He’s been up and down so far. But by the end of the sea­son, I think

PHOTO BY ROB WORMAN

La Plata cen­ter Johnatahn Gra­ham goes in­side for an easy bucket in the first half of the War­riors’ game against Eastern on Wed­nes­day. Gra­ham scored 15 points for the War­riors in a los­ing cause as the vis­it­ing Ram­blers even­tu­ally emerged with a 76-67 vic­tory

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