"It's All About The Game"
Stags stake claim to MPSC 'Chip
Ron Bailey, Publisher
DeMatha captures title.
Witness the Stags receiving 16 point contributions from junior guard Markelle Fultz and sophomore swingman D.J. Harvey. Or the 14 key points - nine in the second half - senior forward Thomas Bruce provided.
Spreading the wealth is not a rarity at DeMatha according to its coach.
MPSC MVP Markelle Fultz, with tournament director Keith Veney (left).
"If you go back and look at all the teams DeMatha has had really, but especially in the last thirteen years (his tenure),we've had some really dominant players" said lead Stag, Mike Jones. " But I think one of the things we pride ourselves on is teaching our guys to play the right way. As good as D.J. Harvey is, as good as Markelle Fultz is, they both average a pretty good number of assists too. When they're not supposed to force things, they most of the time share the ball. And when you have other teammates that can do what those guys can do, it makes it easier".
One such guy is senior point guard Terrell Allen. Jones noted of the future Drexel Dragon "I talk all the time about the point guards that we've had and it's been some really talented guys, but Terrell's basketball I.Q. is probably the best of any of them".
Despite the ball sharing and smart play, DeMatha saw a 22 point halftime lead dwindled to 10 with 1:36 by the third quarter's 1:36 minute mark.
Sophomore guard Terry Nolan, Jr. attributed MC's come back to "In the locker room, my coach (Tom Rose) said 'Anything is possible. And we came out hard and played defense and played together. That's Mt. Carmel Basketball".
Jones agreed, saying his team was "Just a little focused" to which he credited the opponent, as "They, Mt. Carmel, play extremely hard no matter what the score is. And their intensity definitely bothered us. So chalk it up to that". He also thought employing zone "slowed us down a little bit" after a 27 point first quarter, but was necessary given the difficulty "playing that aggressive trapping defense" for 32 minutes.
Enter junior guard Nate Darling (11 points), who banged down two three pointers and scored on an and-one in second half.
Darling's offensive infusion is old hat to Jones, who noted "That's kind of what he does". Nate shared of scoring those much needed points "I come in, that's what they need me to do, knock one down and get the team going. After that my teammates were looking for me and I started knocking them down".
DeMatha's Nate Darling.
The Stags (30-4) will need more of that from him this week when they travel to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Cumberland, MD. Awaiting DeMatha there on Thursday are "two teams we lost to this year, Gonzaga (DC) and Paul VI (VA). So we're really excited to go out there and get another championship" said Darling. ACIT action starts for DeMatha with Bishop Walsh (MD) at 5:45p.
Mt. Carmel (31-9), led in scoring Tuesday by William Jenkins III's 15
points and getting 12 from freshman forward Martez Mathis, is also headed
to this year's ACIT, facing Gonzaga at 4p EST on Thursday.
Nate Darling - 6'3", 175 pound shooting guard, DeMatha Catholic - Darling has earned the reputation of being at or near the short list of DMV-based shooting guards, routinely tickling the twine from deep. As he noted Tuesday night, "I'm a shooter".
His Stag coach, Mike Jones agreed, yet disagreed.
"He's a complete player, he's not just a shooter" said DeMatha's head man last night, when talking about Darling's Maryland Private School Championship win, on in which Nate not only sunk two long balls, but scored on an and-one, fastbreak layup. " It's really good he had such a good year for us, and next year he's going to be even better".
The road from Nova Scotia import to valued performer, in close to two seasons has been an adjustment.
"There's a big one; size, speed, strength" noted Darling of adjusting from ball on Canada's east coast to that in the DMV. "I was going up against 6'3" guys, now I'm coming in the game against 6'8", 6'9" guys, So it's a big adjustment for me".
One thing's that helped is a quick release, one in which the ball is almost flicked to the hoop. Developed with the aid of his father Jason, Darling's release is in part born of necessity, since "I'm a shooter and they're always (guarding against that), so it's hard to get it off".
Darling now gets into the lane off the bounce, and in a pinch initiates the half court offense. Increased strength will further aid that, as well as expand his range, now past three point land.
Nate's development plan?
"Once I hit my peak of growing, I'm going to try and thicken up a little" he shared, while also noting "I need to work on my handle, get quicker, more athletic. I can shoot the ball but I need to expand my game".
This summer expect that to happen in Canada, where he will return, in addition to on the travel team circuit, where he will play for a DMV based team (last year he toured with DC Premier).
In a few months, it's a good bet more than "American, Towson, Binghamton, UNC Greensboro" will stand as offering a scholarship. Case-in point: St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli was scouting Darling personally last night, while high majors like Maryland and Georgetown as well as mid major schools such as Mt. St. Mary's have witnessed his skill set on several occasions.
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