Tuesday, June 18, 2013 12:58 AM
Published on: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By Brandy L. Simms
The third time was a charm for the Eleanor Roosevelt High School boys’ basketball team.
After falling short in last year’s state title game, the Raiders would not be denied a chance to earn the Greenbelt public school’s first state title in more than a decade.
“They all like each other,” said Eleanor Roosevelt head coach Brendan O’Connell. “It’s a really special team.”
The Raiders — competing for a state championship for the fifth time in school history — denied their opponent a chance at repeating as Maryland 4A state champions and earned the program’s first state title since 2002 with a 61-56 victory over Magruder on Saturday night at Comcast Center.
After suffering a five-point loss to Bowie on Jan. 18, the Raiders finished the season on a 15-game winning streak en route to the championship.
Eleanor Roosevelt became the first Prince George’s County school to win a state championship since Largo captured the 3A title in 2008.
After coming up short in two previous state title meetings with Magruder, the Raiders captured the school’s second Maryland 4A state championship.
“This is the happiest day of my life so far,” said Eleanor Roosevelt senior forward and Holy Cross signee Malachi Alexander, “so it means everything.”
Magruder earned the Montgomery County 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 (27-1) was seeking to avenge last year’s 39-36 loss to Magruder (24-3) and accomplished its mission.
Raiders senior guard Tiwian Kendley finished with a game-high 19 points while teammates Trevor Evans and Jesse Ason scored 10 points each. Alexander finished with seven points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
Kendley’s tomahawk dunk with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter excited the crowd and gave the Raiders a 12-point lead.
“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 10 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.
“It’s an awesome feeling, and I’m definitely satisfied I left a mark on the school,” Alexander said.