"It's All About The Game"
Gwynn Park Patiently Takes It To Largo
Ron Bailey, Publisher
January 20, 2008 – The assumed Prince George’s Count 3A/2A league’s game of the year to date didn’t quite live up to the hype, as Gwynn Park (Clinton, MD) used a 15-6 run in the third quarter to distance themselves from previously unbeaten Largo (Upper Marlboro, MD), only to run away with the game for a 80-50 win Friday night. The home standing victors were led by senior guard Sean Thomas’ 30 points, along with 16 from fellow fourth year backcourt man, Harold Washington.
Starting the game in an unusual box-and-one defensive alignment focusing on Largo’s Kevin Pollard (13 points), Gwynn Park more or less traded baskets with the Lion. After the game’s first basket, a shot by Washington, it wouldn’t be until Thomas’ back to back layups, the last of which tickled the twin with 7:20 to go in the second quarter, that Gwynn Park would again lead.
Gwynn Park's dynamic backcourt duo of Sean Thomas (l.) and Harold Washington.
Though the Yellow Jackets led 37-32 at intermission, the game’s pace more or less favored Largo, probably known as the Washington, D.C. area’s most consistently frenetic team on both sides of the court, given their pressure defense and relentless attack offensively.
To combat that, Gwynn Park’s coach, Mike Glick, came into the game knowing both handling Largo’s full court pressure and half court traps, in addition to controlling pace would be key.
“A lot credit goes to our J.V. team” said school’s coach on his team’s preparation for Largo’s defense. “We practiced against seven or eight of them. It really helped us handle their pressure”.
Given that “Largo is the leading scoring team in the area”, Glick shared “our goal was to keep the game’s (offensive) pace under control”, something Thomas seemed to do in earnest, starting in the third quarter: Sean directed his team to a 52-40 advantage, leading through defensive intensity, smart overall play, and by forcing his team to stick to its game plan of sharing the ball, thereby forcing Largo to play defense for extended periods of time. This included one possession that lasted close to two minutes.
“Coach told us to slow the ball down” revealed Thomas, before adding “When we slowed the ball down, held it for like 30 seconds, they broke down. Our game plan worked. They were very well scouted”.
Pic - “I know my team needed a boost in the second half”, so I knew me and Harold Washington had to pick the team up”.
Glick said of his leader “He’s the heart and soul of our team. I give him all the credit. He really stepped up when we lost our point guard (earlier this season”.
After a stretch where two double technical fouls were issued by the referees in an effort to calm emotions, Gwynn Park continued their pass-centric halfcourt offensive focus, as well as seeing Thomas et al create more turnovers. The team as a whole hit numerous foul shots down the stretch.
Glick responded “I’d say so”, when asked of this was his team’s biggest win of the year. “They are the only team we haven’t beat since I’ve been at Gwynn Park (two seasons). And they beat us in the playoffs last year”.
Chibuike Achuko (42) had 14 points while battling inside.
Washington, agreed, but added “It’s one of our biggest wins league wise, but I’d say Randallstown (a Baltimore County school that was defeated 73-60 in the Bay Ball Classic) was our biggest game, because we’ll probably meet them down the line, in the state semifinals”.
Such long term thinking is good, but the road to the Comcast Center for Gwynn Park (12-0, 8-0 in league play) will still likely go through Largo (10-2, 7-1), where a February 19th tilt looms.
Stay tuned, the 3A/2A is heating up.
Thomas Time: When his team pulled away in the third quarter, Sean Thomas was all over the place, scoring and defending. One play, which occurred at the end of that run, exemplified his impact: Though he created a steal out of a 2-3 zone defense, Thomas was unable to corral the rock. Smartly, he softly tipped the ball ahead, which was gathered by a teammate, before getting off the deck, racing down the floor, and scoring on a layup.
A Swarm of ‘Jacks: In addition to Thomas and Washington, senior Chibuike Achuko also dropped 14 points, in addition to manning the boards. A standout in football, Achuko is being recruited by a number of Ivy League-caliber schools in that sport.
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