HYATTSVILLE – It was only fitting that Nendah Tarke had the ball in his hands when time on the game clock expired.
Tarke, a rising senior, finished with a game-high 19 points Friday to lead the Bullis Bulldogs to a 71-62 victory over the Bishop O’Connell Knights in the Capitol Hoops Summer League at DeMatha Catholic High School.
Tarke, who already holds an offer from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, will fill the void created by the graduation of star point guard Vado Morse.
“I’m going to embrace this new role as the leader of the team and I hope it takes us far in this summer league,” said Tarke.
Bullis, who made their summer league debut against the Knights, looked sharp from the outset.
“I think it’s a big one for us,” said Tarke, “just because it’s our first game out with a new team [and] a bunch of new players, so we were excited to get this one, especially after last year losing by 30.”
Malcolm Alexander, Cole Hanin and Erik Reynolds also scored in double-figures to help fuel the Bulldogs’ win. Alexander, who finished with 15 points, made all four of his free-throw attempts while Hanin scored 12 points and Reynolds added 10 points in the win.
“We feel like collectively we all complement each other well as leaders,” said Tarke. “We each have our strengths and weaknesses and we complement each other well.”
The game featured a variety of plays from Tarke, including highlight reel dunks, and the victory was also significant because it was against one of the top programs in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
“It was a big win for us,” said Bullis assistant coach Shawn Kane. “We didn’t know what to expect. We know that they’re rolling on people this year.”
Meanwhile, Bishop O’Connell was led by talented point guard Ayan Teel and 6-foot-8 forward Charlie Weber who each scored 15 points for the Knights.
Teel’s alley-oop to Weber with 6:36 remaining in the second half cut the deficit to 55-52 before Bullis closed out the game on a 16-10 run.
The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference contender also boasts 6-foot-8 junior Jake Berry who finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Weber, who finished with five rebounds, and Berry could give a lot of teams fits with their size advantage but Bullis was able to match up with them.
The Bulldogs also received a solid performance from rising junior Omari Salvi who finished with two points and two rebounds in 13 minutes of action on the hardwood.
“He has a pretty all-around game, to be honest,” Tarke said of Salvi. “He’s going to rebound. He’s going to make shots [and] putbacks. He makes a lot of energy plays for us; a good team player.”
Jesiah Matthews, CJ Amsellem and Kolin Lewis are also among the returning seniors at Bullis.
Amsellem, a 6-foot-8 forward, finished with eight points and four rebounds in the win.
“CJ and Omari were just working their tail off on the boards,” said Kane. “It’s good to see.”