HS Basketball Notebook: Hebrew Academy, Sandy Spring win PVAC titles
It was the first time the longtime rivals had met for a conference title, and the crowd in Rockville reflected the gravity of the game.
“All weekend I was insanely nervous, but I knew when I walked on the court it was going to go away,” Cougars forward Jenny Kagan said. “Because really I was just looking forward to it. So once I was there, with the fans and everything, it went away and we won a championship.
Kagan led Hebrew Academy through a solid first half, scoring 25 of the team’s 41 points. She finished with 36 after the Cougars spent the second half fending off Jewish Day.
“Two weeks ago, if [Jewish Day] had made that run in the third quarter, maybe my girls didn’t fight back, maybe they just let them have it,” Pinnock said. “So just to see this team grow from the first time I went there and met them for training until tonight, it’s been really special.”
The match was followed by the PVAC Boys Championship, featuring Jewish Day vs. Sandy Spring Friends.
Sandy Spring went undefeated through the regular season and Saturday night cemented her status with a calm and confident 48-35 win for the program’s first conference title since 2018.
The PVAC does not use a shot clock, so a game can take many forms. This game turned into a defensive battle, with every basket counting that much more.
“We feel like we can play any style. It’s a smart team,” coach Azhar Shamsudeen said. “We played games in the 70s, then in the semis it was 30-19. … We just roll with it, ready to compete.
Senior Jayden Rainey earned MVP honors after leading the team with 15 points.
“This season has been about making progress, starting with the summer league all the way through this season,” Rainey said. “We showed a lot of heart and a lot of effort.”
Wilkes wins SMAC’s highest honor
Jacory Wilkes has always been taller than his peers, and as he sat around his house one summer in college, his mother, Latisha, wanted him to try basketball.
Wilkes didn’t know what to expect when he arrived for an AAU tryout with the Maryland Mavericks at Oxon Hill Middle School. But as Wilkes raced down the court and completed lay-ups in a three-man weave drill early in the session, he fell in love with the sport.
The 6-foot-8 striker’s budding passion led him to stardom with Thomas Stone. Last week, Wilkes was named Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Player of the Year. The senior is averaging 17.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.
After college, Wilkes was thrilled to join Prince George’s County’s rich basketball history. He grew up in Upper Marlboro and planned to play for Wise in his first season before his family moved to Waldorf.
“It was tough because I didn’t want to leave my team,” Wilkes said. “Once I found out I was going to Stone, I was like, ‘Yeah, that might be fine with me. ”
As a sophomore, Wilkes became a star and improved his offensive acumen during the coronavirus pandemic while training outside of a local college.
Wilkes hopes to end his senior season by returning to at least the semifinals of Maryland 2A for the first time since his freshman year. In the first round of the playoffs on Friday, Wilkes had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in Stone’s 75-21 win over Calvert.
Mia Johnson, G, St. Charles. The junior scored 20 of her game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter of the Spartans’ playoff win over Huntingtown.
Cameron Gillus, G, Friends of Sidwell. The junior led all scorers with 19 points as the Quakers finished a dominating season in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference with a conference tournament championship.
Hope Drake, G, Briar Woods. The well-rounded sophomore averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last week to secure his Falcons a berth in the state playoffs. In the team’s first-round win over Massaponax, Drake knocked down the free throws that sealed the game.
Albert Mouring, G, Douglass. The junior had clutch shots in overtime before making a decisive deflection with 0.4 seconds left as Douglass knocked out Eleanor Roosevelt, 63-61, in the Prince George’s County Championship game.
Girls Bethesda-Chevy Chase in Churchill, 7:00 p.m. Tuesday
Daughters of Langley at Robinson, time to be determined on Saturday
DCSAA Class AA Women’s Championship, 4 p.m. Sunday at George Washington University
DCSAA Class AA Boys Championship, 6 p.m. Sunday at George Washington University
The guard helps Flowers dance
Two years ago, CH Flowers guard Jai’den Anderson entered high school with a tough decision to make. Should she pursue her first love of dancing by joining the cheerleading squad or explore her growing interest in basketball?
“The plan going into high school was to try to balance both basketball and dancing,” Anderson said. “But when I met Coach [Roderick] Hairstone and [assistant coach Craig Brown] I realized that I wanted to become a basketball player.
To this day, Anderson’s teammates and coaches jokingly call the junior “pom pom” or “glitter toes” during practice. And as Flowers (12-1) prepares for another Maryland 4A playoff appearance, Anderson’s time as a dancer has the Jaguars coaching staff excited about what the future may hold.
“We always joke with her about being a cheerleader, but a lot of the skills she’s learned doing it all is what allows her to be such an important part of our team,” he said. said Hairston. “I can’t say for sure, but things like her fast second jump, her footwork and her overall agility, in my opinion, are directly related to her past as a dancer.”
Anderson is only a complementary player, averaging just over five points per game, but Hairston said some college programs in the area, including George Mason and Howard, have expressed interest in her potential.
Patriot perfection put to the test
Patriot basketball has extended perfection. Now 25-0, Patriot will host James River Friday in the Virginia State quarterfinals after a spectacular run in Class 6 Bracket B that included an 82-69 win over Battlefield in the region final.
Patriot is one of nine local men’s teams advancing to the States Division, joining Battlefield, Hayfield, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Loudoun Valley, Riverside, South Lakes and Washington-Liberty.
Battlefield gave the undefeated Pioneers their final test as the Prince William County rivals faced off for the fourth time this year.
In the Virginia playoffs, the region’s final game is not a win-or-go-home contest; both the winner and runner-up advance through the state bracket. That fact, along with the emotional nature of the team’s 58-56 win over Potomac in Wednesday’s regional semi-final, has Pioneers coach Sherman Rivers worried about his team’s energy level.
In fact, he was glad the Pioneers were ready to take on Battlefield, as he knew the rivalry aspect of this match would ensure his program was ready for it.
As he suspected, the Pioneers came out with a lot of energy and built a 26-point lead. A furious Bobcats rally cut that to two with minutes remaining. But the Pioneers, having survived a slew of close games in their dream regular season, weren’t about to start panicking.
“We put enough pressure on ourselves that the situations in the game didn’t really get to our guys,” Rivers said.
The Pioneers held their heads high and nailed their foul shots to close out an 82-69 victory. This trip to the state quarterfinals will be their first since 2019, when they lost to South County. The team is looking for its first national title.
“Each time we reach a milestone, we celebrate it and then acknowledge that the job isn’t done,” Rivers said. “We have two of the three trophies we talked about.”