Thursday, May 23, 2013 2:56 PM
Published on: Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Holden Wilen
GERMANTOWN – Despite trailing by 10 points in the third quarter and committing more than 15 turnovers in the game, the Northwest High School boys’ basketball notched a first-round playoff win at home over Richard Montgomery High School Tuesday evening.
Northwest, the no. 8 seed in the Maryland 4A West region, was led in scoring by junior guard Xavier Bradley, who finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-14 shooting, including two three-pointers. Sophomore guard Jamar Wilson chipped in with 15 points and senior guard Elliot Gambrell scored 11 points.
Defense and timely baskets won the game for Northwest. Before the game, Northwest head coach Usman Jamil preached to his team to get deflections. The result was a myriad of turnovers by Richard Montgomery, which couldn’t handle Northwest’s 1-3-1 defense.
“We chart deflections as a program, and it kind of shows us how into it we are on defense,” Jamil said. “We just wanted to disrupt them as much as we could. They’ve got a great scorer in (Justin) Senou, and (Tory Sharps) is a load in the paint. We just wanted to make all their touches tough, and get our hands on the ball as much as we could.”
Northwest got off to a quick start in the first quarter, jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead. Richard Montgomery rallied however, and tied the game at 9-9. Bradley then came through with what would be the first of several key shots, nailing a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give Northwest a 12-9 lead. After a low-scoring second quarter, Northwest took a 24-17 lead into halftime.
Jamil said coming out flat in the third quarter has been a problem for Northwest all season long, and it was the case again on Tuesday. Richard Montgomery opened the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 29-24 lead, and Northwest didn’t score its first basket of the half until there were under four minutes left in the third quarter. Northwest committed 10 turnovers in the third quarter, and was outscored 23-10. With 42 seconds left in the quarter senior guard Justin Senou (18 poins), Richard Montgomery’s leading scorer all season long, finished a breakaway slam dunk to give his team a 10-point lead at 40-30.
Right when it appeared Northwest had nothing left, the team awakened and went on a 10-0 run to tie the game After a pair of free throws and a Richard Montgomery turnover, Bradley made a layup to end the third quarter, his second buzzer-beater of the night. Northwest then opened the fourth quarter with six straight points to tie the game. With four minutes and 30 seconds left, Richard Montgomery answered back with an alley-oop dunk senior forward Tony Sharps on a delivery from Senou, to take a 42-40 lead and silence the Northwest crowd for a moment. From there, the game went back and forth with three more lead changes.
Trailing 45-44, Bradley came through one more time for the Jaguars. Gambrell drove to basket and passedthe ball to Bradley who made the easy layup to give his team the lead with a minute and 58 seconds left. The layup turned out to be the game-winning basket.
With 30 seconds left and leading by three points, Bradley missed a free throw. Richard Montgomery called timeout with 19.3 seconds left, and one last opportunity to tie the game. On the ensuing possession, Gambrell stole the ball from Senou and put in a breakaway layup to seal the game for Northwest.
After the game, Jamil said he was happy for his team and the toughness they showed in making the comeback from 10 points down.
“They’ve been a resilient group all year, and that’s all we talked about before the game,” Jamil said. “Every game we played up until this point has prepared us for this moment. Intensity is going to be high; you’re going to get tested. Just stay headstrong and battle through it. I thought we did.”