By MARCUS HELTON
WALDORF, MD – News and notes from the DMV Tip-Off Classic at North Point High School on December 16, 2017.
DEVONISH STEPS INTO STARRING ROLE
After transferring from Bladensburg (Md.) to Wise (Md.) this summer, all eyes were on 2018 point guard Sherwyn Devonish to help fill the void left by the graduation of stars Michael Speight and Darron Barnes.
Through the first few games, Devonish has proven up to the task. The 2018 point guard has helped guide the Pumas to a 4-1 start, including a 70-43 blowout victory over St. Charles (Md.) on Saturday.
“It was hard to make the transition [to Wise] at the beginning,” Devonish said, “but now since I’m a couple of months into the school I’m kind of getting the hang of it and I’m used to it. … This team is going to be real special. My goal is to bring them back to the Xfnity Center; that’s what I’ve pledged to do and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Devonish put up 26 points against St. Charles, and was coming off of a 29-point outing in a 68-52 win against Bladensburg last Friday. He carried that momentum into Saturday.
“It was kind of exciting to play against your former team,” he said. “So I kind of wanted to give them all I had and get the ‘W,’ so when we won, it felt good.”
The 6-foot Devonish’s only current offer is from Division II Bowie State, but he said D-I Morgan State has shown interest. With continued strong play, he’s sure to see his recruitment take off. He’s a strong two-way player with good shooting touch, toughness and vision.
HARRIS CARRIES ROCK CREEK OFFENSE
2018 Rock Creek Christian (Md.) forward Jermaine Harris knew he’d be counted on to carry the scoring load this year, and that was definitely the case on Saturday.
Harris scored a game-high 24 points in Rock Creek’s 57-53 win over Bladensburg, and was the lone Eagle to reach double figures. He shot 9-of-12 from the field – including 2-for-4 from 3-point range – and grabbed 8 rebounds.
The Rhode Island commit went to work early, going 7-of-7 from the field while notching 18 points in the first half. He fouled out late, and the Eagles got key points from guards Jon Preston and Frank Evans to close out the victory.
“It’s been great,” Harris said of being the focal point and team leader this season. “It’s just been [about] having patience and having to teach these guys the right way to go and how to win.”
The 6-foot-9 Harris said he’s spent a lot of time working on his shot, and that effort has proven beneficial. Through Rock Creek’s first few games he’s looked noticeably more confident in his jumper and forced opposing bigs to step further out, where he can use his quickness and improved handle to attack the time.
“I’m just working on my game: dribbling, finishing down low,” he said. “I’m just working on my overall game and trying to get ready for the college level because I know it’s going to be competition and everybody’s going to be at my neck and all different types of stuff.”
TOATLEY THRIVING IN LEAD ROLE
In his first season at Riverdale Baptist last year, 2018 point guard Donovann Toatley made an immediate impact, helping the Crusaders win the Maryland Private Schools Tournament (and taking home MVP honors).
With the Crusaders graduating all-time leading scorer and current Monmouth freshman Deion Hammond, Toatley has become Riverdale’s go-to guy, and it’s a role he said he’s ready for.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting on my whole high school career,” said Toatley, who spent his first two seasons at St. Stephens & St. Agnes (Va.). “I mean, I knew I had the talent to do it and I knew I had the work ethic for it, and it’s just a blessing to finally get the opportunity to put the team on my shoulders and showcase what I can do.”
He did just that, dropping a game-high 20 points in a 69-67 win over Eleanor Roosevelt. The Tennessee-Chatanooga commit said having his recruitment already wrapped up has helped him focus on the court.
“Oh yeah, most definitely," he said. "Already being committed, it's like a breath of fresh air. You don’t have to stress, you can go out there and show what you can do and don’t have to worry about being critiqued for every little mistake, because you already know where you’re going.”
Individually, Toatley said he'd still like to work on picking and choosing his spots better offensively and on his stamina to be ready for the college game. And while he knows where he's going, he's also focused on helping his team go somewhere they've been before.
“I feel like we have the potential to be even better than last year’s team," he said. "We’re much more athletic, quicker and we have a lot more cohesion. I think we have a chance to win states again.”
EACKLES STUFFS STAT SHEET IN RYKEN WIN
With his team still in search of its first win, St. Mary’s Ryken (Md.) 2018 forward Leland Eackles was willing to do whatever was necessary to get it.
Eackles posted 16 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks to help the Knights beat host North Point 80-58 and pick up their first victory under new coach Walter Booth.
“We played at our tempo,” Eackles said. “Most games we’ve been playing at our opponents and that wasn’t getting us nowhere, so we finally picked up and played our way this whole game. We had moments where we didn’t play it, but eventually we picked it up and we owned this win.”
Eackles finished 8-of-11 from the field. The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder said his recruitment has been slow to develop. He’s still raw offensively, but it an athletic energy guy who is unselfish and communicates on both ends.
“[My strengths are] Being the biggest team player and honestly just communicating on the floor,” he said. “I’m a senior, and I feel as if it’s my job to get people on the court to talk, and that’s what I’ve got to improve on.”
After a highly productive freshman season at Oxon Hill (Md.), 2020 guard Michael Sumner, Jr. made the move to St. Mary’s Ryken (Md.), hoping to test himself in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
“It’s been a good transition,” he said. “I’m trying to work so we all become a team; it’s a fast-paced team and a defensive-oriented team, so I’m just trying to get a good feel for it.”
Sumner scored a season-high 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting against Ryken, adding 4 assists and 3 rebounds. It’s a step down from his production last year, but he should see it increase as he gets more comfortable. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder already has good size and playmaking ability.
“It’s faster than public school,” he said. “Everybody plays hard and there’s more competition – stuff like that.”
GUARDS KEY IN DOUGLASS ROUT
2019 guard Kaylen Vines and 2018 guard Eric Isler scored 24 points apiece to lead Frederick Douglass-PG (Md.) as they jumped out to a quick start and never looked back in a 75-57 win over Theodore Roosevelt (DC).
“We were just trying to get them up out of there early and get things done,” Vines said.
From the beginning, the Rough Riders had a tough time with Vines, a 6-foot-2 slasher who got the bucket seemingly at will. He shot 10-of-11 from the field.
“[The key was] Defense,” Vines said. “Just trying to get open and attacking the rim.”
Isler - a transfer from Wakefield (Va.) - is another intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-4, he has good size and strength, and gave Roosevelt’s guards fits. In addition to his 24 points - which came on 8-of-13 shooting - he grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds.
2018 forward Jabraun Shingler added 11 points and 6 rebounds for Douglass. 2020 wing Darius Miles lead Roosevelt with 15 points.
GALLION, THURGOOD MARSHALL WIN THRILLER
Thurgood Marshall (DC) turned in the day's most exciting finish, as 2021 guard Mike Aiken drained a jumper in the final seconds to lift the Warriors to a 46-44 win over Bishop Ireton (Va.).
2018 guard Savion Gallion finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Warriors and earn MVP honors.
"The key was to play hard and get stops and easy lay-ups - that was the key the whole game," Gallion said. "We practiced hard for this game, we played 'D' and it came out to our benefit.”
With 13.7 seconds remaining in a tie game, Aiken took an inbounds pass and dribbled up the right sideline. He set his man up with a crossover and stepback - so sudden that it sent his defender stumbling - and calmly drained the winner.
“Oh, I knew it was good," Gallion said. "We practice that all the time.”
Potomac (Md.) graduated many of the key players who led them tantalizingly close to the Maryland 3A state title last year, but that doesn’t mean the Wolverines are ready to take a step back.
“It’s high expectations,” 2018 guard Jason Newman said. “We’ve got zero room for error.”
If the Wolverines make another run, it’ll be led by Newman, who was smooth and efficient while scoring a game-high 25 points in an 85-78 win over Westlake. He displayed nice touch from the field and was also strong attacking and finishing through contact.
“It’s like all eyes on me,” he said. “Everybody follows behind me, and I’ve got to be the general on and off the floor.”
Senior guards Emmanuel Doby and Tra’Quez Grier added 14 apiece for Potomac, which will depend heavily on its guards this season.
“We don’t really have height this year," Newman said, "so it’s harder for us to get rebounds. So our guards and big men have to work together to get more rebounds.”
Bladensburg (Md.) 2-018 wing Daniel Oladapo turned in a monster performance in his team’s loss to Rock Creek Christian, posting 20 points and 17 rebounds. … St. Mary’s Ryken (Md.) 2018 forward Severet Alperin Kurnaz posted 12 points and 12 rebounds against North Point. .. Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 2019 guard Cameron Brown led the Raiders in scoring (17 points) and rebounding (10) in the loss to Riverdale Baptist. … 2019 guard Anthony Bowman led St. Charles with 13 points against Wise. ... 2019 guard Ethan Lynch led Bishop Ireton with 11 points. ... 2018 guard Jaimon Cheek led Westlake with 16 points against Potomac in Saturday's opener.