No. 2 Wise knocks off No. 1 Rock Creek Chris­tian in boys’ bas­ket­ball.


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JA­COB BOGAGE ja­cob.bogage@wash­

Af­ter the game, Wise’s play­ers jumped around the locker room and threw their arms over each oth­ers’ shoul­ders. They held their in­dex fin­gers high and claimed their place as the re­gion’s top team.

For months, the sec­on­dranked Pu­mas (14-0) had played like the area’s No. 1 team, play­ers said. They just waited for some­one to put the nu­meral in front of their name.

“I feel like since the sum­mer, we put in so much work,” se­nior guard Michael Speight said. “You reap what you sow.”

They fi­nally earned it Satur­day. Their 64-58 win over topranked Rock Creek Chris­tian, the only other un­de­feated team in the area, val­i­dated months’ worth of claims.

“We live in an area where the ex­cite­ment is about the pri­vate schools,” Wise Coach Rob Gar­ner said. “But there are some great pub­lic school pro­grams out there. We felt like we were play­ing for all of them, too.”

Two months ago, when this game was orig­i­nally sched­uled be­fore con­den­sa­tion on the floor caused it to be post­poned, the Pu­mas might not have weath­ered Kenyante Wil­liams’s rim-shak­ing dunk — and a foul shot af­ter­ward — in the first half. It tied the score at 25.

In­stead, Wise re­sponded with a 13-3 run to close the half. Dar­ron Barnes, who fin­ished with 18 points and 11 re­bounds for his sev­enth dou­ble-dou­ble of the sea­son, threw down his own dunk at the other end on the next pos­ses­sion.

“That calmed us down and got our crowd go­ing,” said Speight, who had a team-high 19 points. “We knew we had this.”

But out of half­time, Rock Creek (21-1) went on a 14-3 run to take a 46-44 lead with six min­utes to play. The Ea­gles were pow­ered by ju­nior for­ward Jer­maine Har­ris, who led all scor­ers with 22 points.

The strong Barnes — who at 6 feet 6 is too big to be a guard but too ver­sa­tile to just play in the post — scored seven straight points to end the spree and keep the Pu­mas and Ea­gles neck and neck down the stretch.

“He’s an enigma,” Gar­ner said. “And he’s a beast. He put us on his back in the fourth quar­ter.”

With a minute left, Speight hit a run­ner to give the Pu­mas a two-point lead.

“An­other month,” Speight said. “You grow a lot in that time.”

Se­nior guard Bran­don How­ell drew a charge on Rock Creek point guard Sherif Ken­ney on the next pos­ses­sion. Rock Creek fouled, and Speight hit two more free throws. The crowd, clad in neon yel­low Puma flour­ishes on black hood­ies and T-shirts, erupted af­ter the sec­ond shot swished through.

“We wanted to prove we were No. 1,” Speight said. “And we wanted to prove it more to­day.”

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