ROCKVILLE - The Magruder High School boys’ basketball team does not take losses lightly.
After losing for only the third time since 2011 against Clarksburg High School on Jan. 30, Magruder (16-2) came out with a vengeance Friday, hitting 10 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 82-47 rout over Richard Montgomery High School (6-12).
The Colonels opened the game on a 11-2 run and led 19-7 at the end of the first quarter. They would go on another 15-4 run in the second quarter and finish the half with a 43-20 lead.
“The guys aren’t used to losing a lot, especially J.J. [Epps], Nick [Griffin] and Justin [Witmer],” said Magruder head coach Dan Harwood. “We just needed to get back to playing Magruder basketball, which is playing tough defense and making the extra pass.”
Harwood said he was happy with the team’s ball movement, especially because every 3-point shot was made on an assist. Three-point shooting was key for Magruder as seven different players hit at least one 3-pointer. Overall, Magruder hit on 13 shots from behind the arc.
Epps, the senior guard who finished with 13 points, including 10 in the second half, said the team made a concerted effort to pass the ball more because of the lack of efficiency in the loss to Clarksburg. The improved ball movement led to easier scoring chances for the Colonels as they shot 45 percent for the game.
“When we pass the ball and get each other open, we get close-outs, easy lay-ups and open 3-pointers,” Epps said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Griffin, a senior guard, scored 15 points for Magruder, hitting five of his 15 field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. Senior forward Ryan Rucker came off the bench and scored a then-season-high 12 points (he scored 14 points against Wootton Tuesday), including four 3-pointers.
For Richard Montgomery, the loss was a learning experience., head coach David Breslaw said.
“We really haven’t played a team that has five guys that can shoot three-pointers at any given time so it’s good prep as we go on and play some of these other division teams,” Breslaw said.
The leading scorer for Richard Montgomery, Justin Senou, came into the game averaging 20 points per game. He finished with 18 points in Friday’s game, but Magruder’s defense held him in check as he hit only four of his 10 shots. As a team, Richard Montgomery shot 32 percent from the field.
The strong defensive effort by Magruder was a result of an emotional talk the team had before the game, Epps said. The players talked about having each other’s backs, he said, instead of getting down on one another.
“We didn’t have any help on defense against Clarksburg,” Epps said. “They were getting easy lay-ups with no one even like within two feet of them. Tonight, we had each other’s back and helped each other out there. We helped out, got close-outs, and they had no easy shots.”
Although it appeared that the game was never in doubt for Magruder, a scary moment occurred in the fourth quarter. With 6:25 minutes remaining in the game, Epps appeared to take an accidental elbow to the head, which resulted in two teammates carrying him to the bench. Epps, who did not return in the game, said he took a shot to the temple and experienced a slight headache and dizziness. However, the trainer told Epps she did not think he had a concussion.
“I’m alright,” Epps said. “The trainer told me to go to the doctor and tell her what the doctor says, but she said she doesn’t think I have a concussion.”