SILVER SPRING - A holiday high school boys’ basketball matchup took place at Springbrook High School during the Ed McGeoh Holiday Basketball Tournament between Friendly High School and Howard County’s Reservoir High School on Dec. 27.
The dynamic duo of Donye' Moore and Grant Okolo combined for 26 points which helped lead the Gators to a 54-42 victory.
Behind the efforts of the dynamic duo, Head Coach Michael Coughlan knew it was going to be a tough game to win.
“I feel that it’s good for us to play teams like Friendly," Coughlan said. "I think it’s good for us to play these PG (Prince George’s County) teams, they play physical. All of the years that I’ve been coaching basketball."
In the opening minutes of the first quarter, both sides struggled shooting the ball. However, the Patriots had the assistance of Alexander Jones who scored the first five points of the game for the Patriots.
“After a loss like that we have to figure it out what we need to do on the other end.” Jones said. “We have to get more energy on the floor, that’s the main thing and everything else is already there for our team.”
Despite the hot start, the Gators showed resiliency towards the end of the quarter. Reservoir found its shooting touch and the offense thrived towards the end of the first quarter.
With less than a minute to go, the Gators finally gained the lead after Okolo made a layup in transition to make it 11-10. Following the great effort by Reservoir, their lead at the end of one period was two points 13-11.
Moving into the second quarter, both teams found good looks, but the shooting woes continued. Only a few shots dropped for both sides after a flurry of attempts respectively, as both teams combined for just 10 points in the second frame.
At the end of the half, the Gators hung on to a four-point lead over the Patriots 19-15.
Once the second half got underway, the Gators battled and set the tone with some solid defense. Midway through the third quarter, they gathered some energy from an emphatic block made by Josh Odunowo. That energy translated to their aggressiveness in transition and the offense finally began to click.
With just two minutes to go, Okolo raced down the court past a Patriots defender and scored to increase Reservoir's lead by eight points 29-21.
The Gators continued to gain rhythm offensively, with just a minute remaining in the third Elijah Soto created space and dropped a wide open three to make it 32-21.
Following the three-pointer, the Gators finished the period with a steal from Okolo that led to another layup in transition.
Going into the final period of play, Friendly showed some fight, in the early minutes after Jessie White split a pair of freethrows to cut Reservoir's lead to nine points. The Patriots continued to chip away at the lead with only a minute to spare then Noah Campbell drained a deep three-pointer to make it 46-39.
Following that great shot, the comeback attempt was shut down by the Gators late offensive surge. The game finished on a steal, that led to a Odunowo two-handed dunk.
Following a rough shooting night, the Gators pulled a rabbit out the hat with a 12-point victory over the Patriots. The scoring prowess of Okolo and Moore proved to be just enough for the Gators.
“I feel great that we came together as a team and got the job done better tonight,” Moore said. "I feel good at the end of the day we got the win, and it's just what coach wanted us to do on the road,” Okolo said.
However, on the other end of the floor, Friendly Head Coach Mark Vincent said sometimes most teams have off nights.
“It’s easy to say we let one go," Vincent said. "We are self-inflicting on some things. We missed layups, dropped balls and had a lack of execution. I thought we played really good defensively, but we have to put our defensive effort and intensity with our offensive execution.”
Reservoir improved to 6-1 and Friendly dropped to 3-2.
“We have to keep fighting, it’s a long season and we have to continue to press the ball and take good shots” Ray said.