Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:54 PM
Published on: Thursday, January 24, 2013
By Holden Wilen
OLNEY - In a game marred by turnovers, technical fouls and a fight, the Sherwood High School boys’ basketball team won 42-30 to defend its home court in a battle of mistakes over Kennedy High School Friday night.
Despite trailing at the end of the first and third quarters, Sherwood (9-5, 6-2) held Kennedy (9-5, 4-4) scoreless in the fourth quarter and earned their fifth consecutive victory. Sherwood shot only 25 percent from the field, making only six baskets the entire game. Kennedy didn’t fare much better, shooting only 29.7 percent from the field.
“It was pretty tough,” Sherwood head coach Dondrell Whitmore said. “We had a whole week to practice, and the guys were beating up on each other. We suspected to have a slow start, but the guys buckled down and got focused. We won a sloppy game, but overall we won.”
The matchup was the third between the two teams this season, with Kennedy and Sherwood splitting the other two games. Sherwood defeated Kennedy on Dec. 21, winning 52-41. Kennedy then beat Sherwood 48-46 in the 1up Handles, Inc. Holiday Tournament final on Dec. 27.
Kennedy got off to a quick start in Friday night’s game with the help of its aggressive defense, sprinting out to a 10-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Kennedy led by as many as nine points, when the team led 15-6.
With just more than three minutes remaining in the half and Kennedy leading 16-11, a skirmish took place, with players from both teams threatening to fight each other.
The incident began when Kennedy junior guard Keif Williams put defensive pressure on Sherwood senior forward Ryan Bailey. Frustrated, Bailey elbowed Williams in the face, drawing a reaction and threat. The referees appeared to only catch Williams’ reaction and gave him a technical foul.
Kennedy head coach Diallo Nelson said the incident changed the game and gave Sherwood all the momentum. Sherwood led 21-16 at halftime.
“We were grabbing [Ryan Bailey] a little bit, and he swung his elbows and split the lip of my starting two-guard,” Nelson said. “In basketball, if this is a college game, that would be a flagrant-one or a flagrant-two, and he would be out of the game. In high school, I guess they allow elbows. I’m not quite sure, because we got the technical, and then they got the foul call. I’m not quite sure what that is.”
Sherwood increased its lead to 26-16 to begin the third quarter. At that time, Kennedy senior guard Marcus Murray took over the game, scoring nine points to propel Kennedy to a 30-28 lead at the end of the quarter. Murray finished the game with 11 points to lead the team.
In the fourth quarter, Sherwood stepped up its defense and held Kennedy scoreless. Nelson said Sherwood did a good job of pressuring Kennedy, while the shooters simply could not get anything going.
“We had good looks tonight and we didn’t shoot,” Nelson said. “I mean we got out quick, went dead cold, came out cold in the second half, then we went on a run, and then we went ice cold again at the end of the game. We just couldn’t hit any shots. It happens like that some nights.”
Sherwood won the game on the line, knocking down 30 of 36 free-throw attempts. Kennedy only attempted six free throws the entire game. Sherwood senior forward Joey DeStefano said Whitmore encourages the team to be aggressive and earn trips to the free-throw line.
“We work on free-throws a lot,” DeStefano said. “Every time someone misses, we have to run for them. Free-throws are a big emphasis in our practice.”
DeStefano made nine of his 10 free-throws, all in the second half, and had a game-high 15 points.
Kennedy was called for 27 fouls, compared to only 12 for Sherwood. Both teams played aggressively, Nelson said, which the low score of the game reflects. However, he said he felt the 27-12 disparity in fouls was extensive.
“When you’re aggressive attacking the rim, you’ll get foul calls, but I’m not quite sure it was 27 to 12,” Nelson said. “I don’t know that they were that aggressive. We were both playing pretty aggressive man-to-man. It was a physical game.”
With just more than four minutes remaining, Kennedy had several opportunities to cut the lead after forcing missed shots on defense, but they couldn’t grab the rebound. Sherwood had four offensive rebounds towards the end of the game to seal the victory.
Rebounding has been a weakness for Kennedy all season long, Nelson said. Despite the team’s talent, Nelson said he doesn’t think it is as aggressive or gritty as some of his past teams.
“I think we’re very poor getting to loose balls, giving up our bodies,” Nelson said. “I have to come up with some type of solution in practice or something to make it a little tougher.”