GAITHERSBURG – Six Maryland high school boys basketball teams participated in the David Griffin Montgomery County Invitational Varsity Tournament from Dec. 27-28. The Quince Orchard Cougars hosted the annual event that showcased three Montgomery County teams playing against three non-county schools. Quince Orchard, Clarksburg and Watkins Mill represented Montgomery County while Urbana, Tuscarora and Owings Mills high schools from Frederick and Baltimore counties, respectively, all participated in the event.
Each team was scheduled to play two games. Quince Orchard’s first challenge came against Urbana on Dec. 27. Before the game, the Cougars wore t-shirts that read “Relentless For Griff” on the back. David Griffin was an assistant varsity basketball coach at Quince Orchard before he passed away in 2017 from osteosarcoma. Cougars Head Coach Paul Foringer decided to name the yearly tournament after Griffin to honor his legacy and contributions to the Quince Orchard community.
“It definitely means a lot to play for our former coach,” said Cougars junior guard Alex Parisotto. “We just want to go out and play for him.”
That motivation and energy translated to an early 19-point Quince Orchard lead against the Hawks. The Cougars never relinquished that comfortable lead and went on to beat Urbana by a final score of 73-49.
Parisotto and juniors Jeremiah Littlejohn and Cole Allemong led the onslaught against Urbana. Parisotto contributed a game-high 23 points; Littlejohn and Allemong combined for 27 points.
The Cougars dictated the tempo from the start of the game and spread the ball around. Littlejohn set up a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers for Allemong, while guard Jared Sabban completed a bounce pass to Parisotto in the paint for a layup and a chance at a three-point play.
Meanwhile, turnovers haunted the Hawks during the first half. Missed passes resulted in points for Quince Orchard. Littlejohn pulled down defensive rebounds as his teammates double-teamed Urbana’s point guards and denied them any open shots.
The Cougars, however, found plenty of open shots behind the arc. Quince Orchard netted five three-point baskets in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beater by Sabban.
Parisotto’s 12 points in the second quarter helped give the Cougars a 22-point lead heading into halftime. That lead carried Quince Orchard into the third quarter that featured another 3-pointer at the buzzer, this time courtesy of Allemong.
“The thing that really excites me about this team is that when they play together, how incredibly good they are,” said Foringer. “When they move the ball and get away from the individual stuff that never works when we get to 100 percent team play, we’re going to be awfully good.”
The Hawks started to lean heavily on forward Cully Loun (22 points) Loun waited for a pass under the basket before spinning around and aiming for the net. The junior also dunked over Quince Orchard forward Sam Dacy to open the fourth quarter.
“I just got a pass down the middle from my teammate, and I just saw two defenders underneath me. I thought going up would be the right decision, and it definitely was,” said Loun. “It was very exhilarating.”
Littlejohn created an Urbana turnover and responded with a big play of his own a few seconds later. The junior leaped into the air and slammed down a resounding one-handed dunk that drew cheers from the fans in attendance.
Littlejohn smiled and shook his head when he recalled the dunk that brought the Quince Orchard fans to their feet. “I just do this,” he said. “I do this.”
Despite trailing by a significant margin for most of the game, the Hawks didn’t give up. Freshman guard Ezekial Avit found himself at the free-throw line after tearing through a lane to get to the basket. Loun landed layup after layup as the game clock ticked down to zero.
“I love playing in tournaments like this over the holidays. It gets us back into shape because next week, we’re getting ready for conference games, so it’s a good way to warm up for that,” said Loun.
“Our effort was lacking, but I feel like we never really quit on ourselves,” said Urbana Head Coach Michael Jarboe. “We kept believing, and we kept trying to finish.”
The Montgomery County teams led 2-1 after the first day’s scheduled games. On Dec. 28, Watkins Mill earned a 67-59 win over Urbana while the Cougars prepared to close out the tournament against Owings Mills.