The Washington Post

Churchill earns a Montgomery sweep

The Bulldogs capture the boys’ and girls’ championsh­ips

- FROM STAFF REPORTS — Spencer Nusbaum

Isaiah Mbeng twitched forward — a slight jab step that earned him enough space to step back and create a three-point shot. The Churchill guard fired from the top of the arc with just ticks left in a tied Montgomery County boys’ basketball title game between his Bulldogs and Damascus.

The shot fell through, and Churchill won the championsh­ip, 53-50. Mbeng pounded his chest as he strutted down to the end of the court in celebratio­n.

“I was actually really confident that it was going to go in because I know how much work I put into my shot,” he said. “As it went in, I was in a whole different world.”

He finished with 10 points and six assists. Churchill’s leading scorer, Nick Goldberg, had 15 points but fouled out. His absence extended an already long list for the Bulldogs that included future University of Maryland wide receiver Zeke Avit. Avit didn’t play in Churchill’s last three regular season games and won’t return for the playoffs in what Coach Dave Blumenthal called a team matter.

The boys completed a clean sweep for Churchill; the girls beat Clarksburg, 56-41, for the county title earlier that day. The win didn’t affect either squad’s playoff seeding but certainly carried symbolic weight for the Bulldogs.

Clarksburg was one of two Montgomery County teams to beat Churchill in the regular season. The other was Richard Montgomery, which hosted both championsh­ip games.

“We’re playing one of the teams we lost to in the gym that we lost the other game,” Coach Pete Mcmahon said. “I thought it was an opportunit­y for the kids to get mentally past that and just prepare themselves for playing a good quality team.”

— Varun Shankar

Wise girls, Largo boys win

Wise players let out cheers and tears following their 52-40 win over Oxon Hill in Wednesday’s Prince George’s County girls’ championsh­ip game.

What got the Pumas (19-3) to that point might have been two lower-profile games: an earlyseaso­n win over Parkdale and a three-point loss at C.H. Flowers. Last season, Wise lost by a large margin to both opponents, so those early results provided encouragem­ent.

“I’ve probably talked with our assistants a hundred times about how important it was for our girls to line up with two of the best teams in the area and just show that they belonged,” Wise Coach Peter Snipes said. “After those two games, I could just see the confidence shift in our girls. In their hearts, they knew they could hang, and that showed on the floor from then on.”

The Pumas’ confidence was on full display in the county final — they dominated Oxon Hill (19-3) from start to finish. Senior Emrie Aarons led the way with 14 points, sophomore Ariana Meriedy added 13, and junior Chrisdin Jones had 10.

The Clippers, who were riding a 14-game winning streak, lost in the county championsh­ip game for a third straight season.

On the boys’ side, Largo went into Wise’s gym and made a statement. Behind Cam Ward’s 25 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocks and three steals, the Lions won, 75-59. It was the third straight time a 3A/2A/1A school reigned in Prince George’s County.

“Winning this game and being able to represent for the smaller schools in the county definitely means a lot to us,” Coach Rodney Ward said. “Schools like us regularly get overlooked, and I think that puts a chip on our guys’ shoulders. Some of the best ball in the state is played at the 3A/2A/1A level. This winning streak highlights that.”

The Lions (17-6) had a 9-6 record in mid-january but won eight straight after an overtime loss to Patriot.

“We had been preaching to the guys about the importance of winning each individual day,” Rodney Ward said. “Whether it’s a game day or just another practice, good teams find a way to win each day on the calendar.”

Senior Jaden Johnson had 21 points for Wise (20-3).

— Tramel Raggs

Sandy Spring Friends repeats

Sandy Spring Friends had been here before. The Wildebeest­s had faced Hebrew Academy, their opponent in Saturday’s Potomac Valley Athletic Conference championsh­ip game, twice in the regular season and got two wins. As they prepared for a third matchup, it was unclear whether that history was a good thing.

“You always want wins,” Coach Azhar Shamsudeen said. “But against a good team, especially in league play, winning against the same program three times is impossible. It’s just really, really hard. Regardless of records, they just know you so well.”

In the early going Saturday, it seemed this game would go like the others. Sandy Spring led for much of the contest, using balanced scoring to keep the Cougars at bay. But Hebrew Academy got hot from deep in the fourth quarter and took a one-point lead with 2:20 left.

At this point in the season, Shamsudeen knew his team was ready for the adversity. Not only had some of these players won the PVAC tournament last season, but they had tested themselves throughout this winter, taking on teams from several prominent conference­s.

“I wanted to give this group as many different experience­s as possible this season, playing against all kinds of teams,” Shamsudeen said.

The Wildebeest­s leaned on that experience in those final two minutes. Sophomore Jacob Cox hit a three to put his team back on top, and Sandy Spring held on.

Next, Sandy Spring Friends prepared for an appearance in the first Maryland Private School Tournament. There, the Wildebeest­s were slated to be surrounded by other conference winners from across the state and given a chance to prove themselves further.

“It’s an event that gives us and teams from all different leagues a chance to show what they’ve got and show just how deep the DMV is,” Shamsudeen said.

— Michael Errigo

Scott leads South Lakes

What does South Lakes sophomore Jordan Scott say when asked how he has handled all of the on-court attention this season? “I mean, there’s four other players on the court with me.”

What about the recruiting attention from high-major college programs despite being tucked away at a public school? “Our team just has to focus on the goals in front of us. We don’t worry about that rah-rah stuff.”

Yes, the last thing Scott will do is talk about himself.

This season, however, he found his voice at practice, as the Scotts tend to do. As a freshman, he had the talent and maturity of someone with his lineage and work ethic. His sister and both of his

Players of the week Kayla Dixon, Madison:

The senior has been a rock all season for an overhauled Warhawks roster. On Thursday, she scored 19 points to lead the team to its third straight region title.

Mia Johnson, St. Charles: The senior scored 26 points as the Spartans took down Lackey, 70-40, to win the first Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title in program history.

Cam Ward, Largo: The sophomore guard had 25 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocks and three steals in the Lions’ 74-59 win over Wise in the Prince George’s County championsh­ip game.

Delaney Thomas, St. John’s: The senior led St. John’s with 13 points as the Cadets claimed back-toback Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles with a win over Paul VI on Monday.

Games to watch

Maryland 4A girls’ region final: South River at Severna Park, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Virginia Class 6 girls’ quarterfin­als: Robinson vs. Oakton at Fairfax, Friday, 7:45 p.m.

D.C. State Athletic Associatio­n AA finals at George Washington University, Sunday, girls at 4 p.m., boys at 6 p.m.

parents played Division I basketball, and his mom — Christy Winters-scott, whose retired jersey hangs in the South Lakes gym — is a staple in the Virginia state record books, having led the Seahawks to a title several decades ago. He wants to hang a banner in Reston, as she did.

This year, he has developed a voice his team needed after it lost all five starters to graduation.

“Jordan, last year, he barely said two words,” South Lakes Coach Mike Desmond said. “This year, he’s shown his personalit­y. He’s a character.”

His voice has mattered for a young team with nowhere to go but up. Last week, Scott was named the Class 6 Region D player of the year, and he has become one of the best three-level scorers in the state at 15. On Friday, the Seahawks, led by Scott’s 29 points, repeated as region champions with a 61-49 victory over Madison. They are 82-12 over the past four seasons.

“We think we can win it all,” Scott said.

 ?? JAY VALERIANO ?? After Churchill’s girls beat Clarksburg to claim a trophy, its boys won their own, topping Damascus on Isaiah Mbeng’s three-pointer.
JAY VALERIANO After Churchill’s girls beat Clarksburg to claim a trophy, its boys won their own, topping Damascus on Isaiah Mbeng’s three-pointer.

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