Great Mills boys claim tournament championship
Hornets boys capture tournament championship
While high schools in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference enjoy their winter recess away from classes, the boys and girls basketball teams of a few of the SMAC schools participated in the Showtime Deli Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Chopticon High School on Thursday and Friday.
Chopticon, Great Mills and Patuxent had both its boys and girls teams competing.
The fourth school participating in the boys tournament was Leonardtown, while the King George Foxes from Virginia represented the final school in the girls tournament.
“It is always good to see so many county teams come together like this,” Great Mills head boys basketball coach Jeff Burrell said. “It is probably one of the coolest things I have seen coaching basketball here when our county teams come together like we do in these type of Christmas tournaments.”
On Friday night, the girls championship was contested first which pitted the hosting Chopticon Braves against King George.
Chopticon (5-3 overall) led by two
points after one quarter of play, but ultimately fell to the Foxes 56-33.
“We came out in the first half today and played physical and played hard,” Braves head coach Joe Cook said. “We competed, but in the second half [King George] wore us down and our offense was nonexistent.”
Chopticon only scored 12 points in the second half, while the Foxes were able to hit four second half three-pointers to help their lead widen.
Senior guard Ciara Thomas led the Braves with 14 points and was named to the all-tournament team along with junior forward Caitlyn Burch who scored two points in the championship contest.
“Their performances were very good all weekend,” Cook said. “Ciara [Thomas] handles the ball for us and provided scoring. Burch does a lot of little things and rebounds for us very well.”
Chopticon’s girls basketball team is scheduled to be back in action at Westlake on Jan. 9.
Chopticon was well represented in the finals of their home tournament, as the boys team took the court in the following game looking for a win in the tournament finale against the Great Mills Hornets.
Early on, the two teams traded buckets at a frenetic pace with both teams pushing the ball in transition.
The Hornets (4-3) led by as many as nine points in the second quarter, but the Braves trimmed the deficit to four at the half, 33-29.
“The first half was a very close game. Chopticon battled. They are a real scrappy team,” Burrell said. “They made us turn the ball over a lot more than we expected. They were real strong in getting to the rim and made tough shots.”
Great Mills exploded for 23 third quarter points, in- cluding three three-pointers and buckets from five different players en route to a 75-51 victory.
“I am thankful in the second half our guys played with a lot more discipline, energy, communication, and they gave it their all,” Burrell said. “At the end of the day, we pulled off a great win.”
Isiah Mills led the Hornets with 16 points, while Troy Herbert and Jarale Barnes each added 12.
“Winning the trophy is something that I hope sparks off a couple more wins moving forward,” Burrell said. “Teaching our guys how to win has been something we want to work on.”
Chopticon guards se- nior Antone Smith and sophomore Steven Lawrence were named to the all-tournament team.
Lawrence led the Braves with 19 points while Smith scored all four of his points from the free-throw line.
Mills and Herbert were named to the all-tournament team from Great Mills, while junior Dominic Max Brooks was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“I did what I had to do in order to help my team get the ‘W’,” Brooks said. “I had a lot of boards that were helping me get my points.”
Brooks only scored nine points in the championship game, but his presence on the court defensively is something that won’t show up in the stat sheet.
“I think Dominic Brooks is already one of the top young defensive players in the state. He is on a record-setting pace with blocked shots,” Burrell said. “He held the paint down again tonight. We are a different team when he’s on the court because he is our anchor.”
Chopticon (3-5) is slated to host Westlake on Jan. 9 while Great Mills is scheduled to host La Plata on Jan. 4.
“We got some work to do,” Brooks said. “We will get back to the lab and come out even better.”
Chopticon sophomore guard JuWaun Queen looks to get open working against freshman Great Mills guard Isiah Mills during Friday’s championship game at Chopticon High School. The Hornets prevailed 75-51.
Chopticon sophomore guard Steven Lawrence sees his shot rejected at the rim by junior Dominic Max Brooks from Great Mills. Lawrence led the Braves with 19 points while Brooks scored nine for the Hornets and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Chopticon girls battle King George for a loose ball on the baseline during the first half of Friday’s championship game.