JAN. 23, 2014- GAZETTE.NET

Thirty-point club continues expanding

The list of members in the 30-point club in Prince George's County boys' basketball added one more to its ranks on Thursday. Northwestern High School's Amir Boney scored 35 — more than half of his Wildcats' points — in a 77-69 loss to Suitland.

Boney, a 6-foot-6 forward, is now the ninth player to have hit the 30-point milestone, joining Evonte Hill, Davon Taylor, Andre Fox, Gerard Gray, Abdulai Bundu, Brandon Dawson, Dejuan Smith, and Gary Stewart. Central's Taylor still leads the pack with four nights in the 30s as he added another with a 33-point outburst in a 103-81 win over Fairmont Heights.

— Travis Mewhirter


JAN. 24, 2014- GAZETTE.NET

Role players help Potomac beat Central

Boys’ basketball: Key to state title hopes may be the other guys



Prince George's 3A/2A/1A

Basketball Leaders

  Points Per Game
8 Brandon Dawson
9 Gary Stewart
10 Anthony Smith
Potomac (MD)


Prince George's 3A/2A/1A

Basketball Leaders

  3-Point Field Goals
17 Kavon Sclaffod
Fairmont Heights
17 Gary Stewart
17 Javaughn Talley



Central makes 33 free throws to top New Town

Boys’ basketball: Falcons survive a free throw marathon to win 1A North Region


by Travis Mewhirter

In between the 84 free throws and litany of whistles, the technical fouls and numerous foul-outs, incensed coaches and impassioned fans, there was actually a fine game of basketball being played in Saturday’s 1A North Region final between Central High School and New Town, one that the Falcons would go on to win 76-69 after 32 minutes of terse, thrilling basketball.

There was an excellent, back-and-forth guard duel between New Town’s Daniel Shand and Central’s Davon Taylor, both of who would score in the 20s despite attempting just 20 field goals between them. There was Taylor’s classmate, Gary Stewart, getting knocked down and bouncing right back up and Kenneth Pettaway dropping in seven crucial fourth-quarter points. There was Central junior Andrew Wimbush lofting as ill-advised a 3-pointer as any, every last Central fan gasping some iteration of ‘No!’ before it fell through, putting the Falcons up seven with less than 20 seconds to play, all but sealing the game.

It was an odd victory for sure, one in which Central coach Lawrence Pugh, who typically plays six players, had four reserves in at critical junctures, but it ended in a fashion which Stewart had never previously experienced: cutting down the nets. “Man, I’m just so happy we won,” said Stewart, a senior who finished with 16 points, second on the team to Taylor’s 20. “I’m just extremely happy. This is my first championship for a high school.”

Pugh would say afterwards that he expected something of a brawl between the two teams from two proud basketball counties, one that had 50 made free throws to just 40 made field goals. He claimed not to get nervous when his Falcons blew a 14-point lead in the third quarter or when, every few seconds it seemed, Stewart was tumbling across the floor, the precursor to each of his 15 free throws, because Pugh’s team is tough, and he expected a tough response.

“We expected that,” Pugh said. “They’re a Baltimore team, we know they’re going to keep coming, we know they’re going to be a physical team, but we knew they were tough. I knew Baltimore County was going to be tough, aggressive and physical, but I don’t think they were battle-tested like we were. We played the 4A champs, Wise, we played Potomac twice, we knew that nobody we played after that would be better than those two teams.”

Taylor recalled a conversation he had with Pugh before the season began, about the goals for the team in his final season. At the beginning, there had been just one item on the list: reach the Comcast Center. That goal has already been modified, designs now set on the 1A state title. The next hurdle will be Edmondson/Westside, another proud Baltimore team and current holder of the 2A crown, scheduled for Friday night. When asked what he thought of the Edmondson, Taylor brushed it off.

He just wanted to bask in the moment, if only for a few more minutes, from where he was: on top. “It feels good to be a champ,” he said. “It feels real good to be a champ.”


Boys' basketball: Central falls to defending state champ Edmonson in Maryland 1A semifinal

By Brandon Parker

Wide open on the left wing and with Central’s momentum slowly pulling the Falcons back into contention late in Friday’s Maryland 1A state semifinal, it appeared as if Davon Taylor was finally going to catch a break.

Up to that point, Central’s leading scorer had struggled to find clear looks against Edmondson’s long-armed defenders. But as Taylor’s three-pointer kissed the side of the rim, it spun around and out of the basket, again thwarting a Falcons team that proved just a few inches — and baskets — short in a 51-46 loss to defending state champ Edmondson at Comcast Center.

With their tallest player measuring 6 feet 3, the Falcons (15-8) were accustomed to facing bigger opponents like the ones featured on the Red Storm. What Central wasn’t used to was a cold hand at the foul line, where it shot 15 for 31, and a slower tempo that held Taylor to his first single-digit output of the season with seven points.

“Their length and size stagnated our offense a little bit,” said Falcons Coach Lawrence Pugh, whose team was outrebounded 48-36. “They did a good job of getting back and preventing us from running.”

After trading baskets for the first 12 minutes, the Red Storm broke open a 7-0 run to build a 29-26 halftime advantage. Gary Stewart kept the Falcons close by slicing through the gaps in Edmondson’s 1-2-2 zone and creating opportunities at the line.

“It was a disadvantage with their height,” said Stewart, who finished with 11 points, “but with speed and quickness, it wasn’t as much of a problem.

But as the Red Storm worked to slow down the pace in the fourth quarter, the approach ignited Edmondson junior Kevin McClain. The 6-foot-5 forward found room inside to score eight straight points and helped the Red Storm build a 10-point lead with three minutes to play.

As the clock wore down and with Central breaking out its fullcourt press, the Falcons cut the deficit to 49-46 behind buckets from Dequan Smith (16 points) and Stewart’s frequent trips to the foul line. But after missing an open three and having a putback attempt blocked on their final possession, the Falcons’ bid to reach their first final in 11 years came to an end.

Though they fell short of their goal, the senior trio of Taylor, Smith and Stewart, along with their coach, fondly looked back with teary eyes on a four-year journey that started after an 0-20 mark in the 2009-10 season and culminated with Friday’s valiant effort.

“The guys at Central, we believed in ourselves when no one else did,” Pugh said. “Central basketball is here to stay because of what these guys built.”


MAR. 14, 2014- GAZETTE.NET

Free throw woes doom Central

Boys' basketball: Falcons miss 16 free throws in five-point loss to Edmondson in 1A semifinals


by Travis Mewhirter

Lawrence Pugh is a math teacher by day and the Central High School boys' basketball coach by night. So he didn't need anybody to spell out the reasons his team lost Friday's 1A state semifinal contest against Edmondson-Westside: The 16 free throws his Falcons missed were the fundamental difference in losing a game decided by five points, 51-46.

“Should have won,” Pugh said. “We missed 17 free throws, they missed four. You do the math. We can't miss opportunities. That's on us.”

Edmondson will play Allegany for the state title scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

It's odd that, depending on one's point of view, the loss at Comcast Center in College Park came down to the free throw line. It was that very spot that boosted the Falcons over New Town Saturday afternoon in the region final. Central made 33-of-46 in that free throw festival, good for a 72 percent clip. On Friday, Central went 15-of-31, a 48 percent clip. Had Central matched its 72 percent shooting from Saturday, the Falcons would have made approximately 22 free throws which, in theory, would have won them the game, 53-51.

But basketball is not a simple game. The free throws were just one of several factors Pugh could have pointed to in the loss. The Edmondson defenses deployed by coach Darnell Dantzler — a blend of 1-3-1, 1-2-2, box-and-1, and several other zone variations — held Davon Taylor, Prince George's County's leading scorer, to just seven points. For just the fifth time all year, Taylor was held without a single 3-pointer, and it was the first time all year that he was held to single-digits.

“I'm going to tell you that, pound-for-pound, he's still the best guard in PG County,” Pugh said.

“Their length, it made it real difficult. On my release I had to try and shoot it over,” said Dequan Smith, who led Central with 16 points. “It kept pushing my shot too high.”

And yet, despite Taylor's struggles and Central's collective woes from the line, the Falcons were right in the thick of it all 32 minutes. Smith carried them with 12 first half points, matching his per-game average, and Gary Stewart visited the free throw line 13 times in the second half alone.

Though Central had an abundance of trouble keeping Edmondson off the boards — the Falcons were outrebounded 48-36 — it countered with speed and forcing turnovers. Edmondson big men Robert McLean and Kani Coles would bruise for a layup, Central would break and get to the line. But in the end, the Red Storm layups proved easier to make than Falcon free throws. McLean went 8-for-9 from the field in scoring 16 points and Coles went 3-for-4 in the second half in scoring his 11 points.

“The better team beat us today,” Pugh said. “I love Central. Central basketball is here to stay. The hard work, dedication, commitment and loyalty these guys have shown me these last three or four years to turn this program around, take us back to Comcast — we'll be back here again.”