Thursday, December 05, 2013 1:56 AM
Published on: Thursday, March 21, 2013
By Brandy L. Simms
COLLEGE PARK – Magruder’s bid to capture consecutive Maryland 4A state championships came up short on Saturday night at Comcast Center.
However, the third time was a charm for the Eleanor Roosevelt boys basketball team who captured the Prince George’s County school’s second state title in a 61-56 victory over the Colonels.
“It’s so hard to get here,” said Eleanor Roosevelt head coach Brendan O’Connell. “I feel so fortunate every year we get here.”
The meeting between the public schools from neighboring counties marked the third time Magruder (24-3) and Eleanor Roosevelt (27-1) had played each other for a state championship.
Magruder earned the Derwood school’s first state title in 2001with a 12-point win over Eleanor Roosevelt at Cole Field House and captured the state championship again last year with a three-point win over the Raiders.
Eleanor Roosevelt senior guard Tiwian Kendley led three Raiders in double figures with a game-high 19 points while classmates Trevor Evans and Jesse Ason scored ten points each.
“I was just ready to play,” Kendley said afterward, a net draped around his neck. “I didn’t want to lose.”
Meanwhile, Magruder senior guard J.J. Epps finished with a team-high 14 points and Justin Witmer added 11 points to lead the Colonels.
Magruder 6-foot-6 sophomore center Joe Hugley scored nine points and grabbed ten rebounds in a losing cause.
Magruder rallied from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter and cut the Raiders lead to 55-51 on Witmer’s 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining.
However, Eleanor Roosevelt converted six out of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The game marked the final high school appearance for Magruder senior starters Nick Griffin, Epps and Witmer.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” said Magruder head coach Dan Harwood, “but I’m more sad that our eight seniors are gone. Justin, J.J., Nick, I’m going to really miss them.”