The 2020 Prince George's County Champion Oxon Hill Clippers. [MARCUS HELTON]
Ronald Polite. [MARCUS HELTON]
UPPER MARLBORO, MD - As shot after shot kept falling for Oxon Hill (Md.) 2020 guard Ronald Polite, there was little anybody watching could do but shake their heads - defenders out of frustration, and spectators in amazement.
The George Mason commit scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter - including a stretch of 12 straight - to lead the Clippers to a 75-50 win over Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) in the Prince George’s County Championship at Wise High School on Wednesday.
“I felt it, you know?” Polite said. “I had the hot hand and my team, they were giving me the rock and I had the ability to make some plays - make some good plays.”
The win gave the Clippers their first County title since 2010, and it was the first for a Class 3A/2A/1A team since Gwynn Park won in 2012. Roosevelt and Wise had dominated the series since.
“It feels great, you know, to grow with the program and build a culture at Oxon Hill - and it's a great culture,” Polite said.
Fellow 2020 guard Malik Holland agreed.
“I mean, it’s great,” he said. “I was here when Coach [Lewis] Howard first got here, and we’ve just been getting better and better over time and to finally get a championship is great.”
Oxon Hill was also buoyed by the return of 2020 guard Mike Sumner, Jr., who scored 18 points in his first game back after missing several due to an academic issue.
‘Yeah I felt comfortable, I was in the gym every day,” Sumner said. “It was just about staying the course and doing what I had to do to help my team win.”
It took the teams a little bit of time to feel each other out initially on Monday, but Oxon Hill grabbed the early advantage behind hot outside shooting from 2020 guard Jaden Myers and took a 17-9 lead after one quarter.
With 1:06 remaining in the second quarter, Polite scored his 1,000th career point on a pull-up jumper, and the game was briefly halted to acknowledge him. The Clippers went into the locker room up 31-22.
Oxon Hill blew the game open in the third quarter as Polite went to work with a vast assortment of buckets: 3’s, pull-ups, a dunk, floaters, driving lay-ins and seemingly everything in between.
“Special players do special things,” Howard said, “and they elevate the game with their teammates around. And even when he’s not scoring, he’s doing all the other little things to help facilitate his team. He’s certainly not a selfish player; he got it in the flow of the game, and it’s pretty to watch.”
Roosevelt trailed 58-36 after three quarters, but cranked up the defensive pressure to close the gap in the fourth. A 3-pointer by 2020 guard Jahari Simon trimmed the Oxon Hill lead to 12 points, but that was as close as the Raiders would get.
Myers finished with 12 points for Oxon Hill, while Holland had 8. 2020 guard Joemel McNair has 12 points to lead the Raiders, while Olumide Lewis had 10 and Simon and Mount St. Mary’s-bound 2020 wing Quinton Mincey finished with 9 apiece.
"We just wanted to execute,” Howard said. “ We ran some stuff and shots didn’t fall early for us, but we just were able to pick our spots, if you will. Ronald got going really early and moving the ball is what got us going. They tried to stifle Malik, but it was fine because he was still getting the touch - it just wasn’t a shot. So he reversed the ball and the ball ends up back in Ronald’s hands. And Marlon Ellerbe did a tremendous job early of just getting to the basket. We’ve just got so many different options, you’ve got to pick your poison.”
Next up for both teams is their respective playoffs. Roosevelt has a bye in the first round of the 4A South Region II bracket, and will face the winner of CH Flowers vs. Suitland next week.
Oxon Hill will host Huntingtown in a 3A South Region I opener on Friday. The Region I bracket is absolutely loaded, with St. Charles, Potomac and Great Mills also in the field.
“You’ve got to play every game,” Howard said. “I mean, the 3A/2A/1A league prepares us for the gauntlet, if you will, and now as we continue to move into the state playoffs, we just want to play. We want to play and go out and play our best basketball at the right time. I don’t believe that we’ve peaked yet.”