A focused DeMatha advances in tournament; Plays at Riverdale Baptist tonight
BY CHRIS MCMANES — After DeMatha’s basketball team lost in the 2015 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title game, it went on to capture the Maryland Private Schools Championship (MPSC). The Stags will take the next step on the road to repeating tonight at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro.
The host Crusaders (25-9) and No. 3 DeMatha (27-5) will play in what some people are billing as the private school championship of Prince Georges County. Tip-off is 7:45.
The victor will meet the winner of the St. Mary’s Ryken vs. Capitol Christian game at Bishop McNamara for the championship of the third-year event on Monday at 7 p.m.
The Stags advanced to tonight’s contest with a 67-47 victory over Good Counsel on Thursday night at Riverdale Baptist. DeMatha hadn’t played in 10 days since losing the WCAC title to St. John’s, 71-57.
“Coming off the loss, it’s just good to get back on the court and get our momentum going,” Stags senior point guard Markelle Fultz said. “I think everybody learned from that loss.”
DeMatha found itself trailing the Falcons 29-26 at halftime before asserting its superior talent and quickness. Using a trapping, ball-pressure defense and fastbreaking offense, the Stags overwhelmed their WCAC rival with a 23-5 third quarter.
“We focused and started playing together with more toughness,” said Fultz, who paced DeMatha with 16 points. “And that made the difference.”
Stags junior Josh Carlton came off the bench and produced 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots in just 16 minutes of play. The 6-foot-9 center’s performance helped prompt La Salle University to offer him a scholarship.
“It was a highly efficient performance,” DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said. “I made a point of how well he played to our team after the game.”
Freshman Justin Moore added nine points, Nate Darling eight and Reggie Gardner seven.
Carlton and Fultz combined to score the Stags’ first 16 points after the break. Carlton tallied seven inside, and Fultz’s points came on an assortment of baskets, including a 3-pointer off a rebound and assist by Ryan Allen, and his own steal and driving layup.
The DeMatha defense then trapped a Good Counsel ballhandler before he advanced the ball into the frontcourt, prompting a Falcon timeout. Allen took a charge, and a little over a minute later, Darling made a space-clearing crossover move and planted a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Gardner collected an assist while out of bounds when he inbounded the ball to Christian Dyches and the junior scored underneath. A Gardner layup concluded the third-period onslaught to send the Stags into the final eight minutes leading 49-34.
Allen, who has a scholarship offer from George Mason, nailed one of DeMatha’s four triples in the fourth quarter. He, too, said the Stags learned from their loss in the WCAC final.
“We learned a few lessons, like we can’t allow the crowd to rattle us, and we can’t let a team get up on us without us making a run back,” Allen said. “We just need to stay focused during the game.