By CHARLES ABANKWA
GREENBELT, MD - Through almost three quarters on Wednesday night the Bowie Bulldogs looked like a team bound for the Xfinity Center, but the Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders went on a 26-5 run in the final 12 minutes to capture a 48-36 win in a 4A South semifinal.
The Raiders advance to face Bladensburg for the 4A South title on Friday, with the winner advancing to the 4A state semifinals at the University of Maryland next week.
“They beat us last year in the same situation; we didn’t want that to happen again,” Roosevelt guard Naji Marshall said. “We were determined to get stops and get the ‘W’.”
Bowie’s 3-point shooting was clicking early as the Bulldogs had three different players knock down 3-pointers to take an 11-6 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Bulldogs hot outside shooting continued as Bowie was able to push its lead to double digits after Jalen Robinson split a pair of free throws. After the free throw gave Bowie a 20-10 lead, Marshall came alive, scoring the final five points of the quarter for the Raiders as the team went into halftime trailing 22-15.
Coming out of halftime the Bulldogs were able to carry over its hot shooting from the first half. They jumped out to its largest lead 31-19 after a Yohance Fleming II two-handed dunk brought the Bowie side of the crowd to a thunderous roar. That roar was very short lived as Marshall raced down court for a layup of his own that settled the crowd a bit.
A Marshall layup was the beginning of a 17-0 run that lasted until two minutes into the fourth quarter, including a 10-0 run to end the third quarter that was capped off by a Marshall 3-pointer in the corner.
“It’s fun to coach kids like that,” Roosevelt head coach Brendan O’Connell said. “They have to go out there and make plays, and tonight the thing I was proud of was for almost three quarters we didn’t make any plays. They didn’t get down they didn’t get frustrated. They played.”
By the fourth quarter the Raiders defense took full control of the game and was leading the way for the team as its offense caught up. For the final 12 minutes of the game the Raiders held the Bulldogs to just five points. It wasn’t just the defense during that span. The Raiders offense came alive scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter and 26 points the final 12 minutes of the game.
The 47-36 victory for the Raiders gets them one step closer to their ultimate goal of competing for a state championship. For the Bulldogs however just getting to this stage wasn’t good enough, and while head coach Cedric Holbrook is proud of his team and what they were able to accomplish he still knows there’s more to be done for his team.
“They’re a great group of guys that knew they had nothing to lose, and they played as hard as they could we just came up a little bit short today,” he said. “It’s disheartening and it hurts, but Roosevelt was the better team today and found a way to win today. We’ve always made runs like this, we got to get past this point; kids have been to this point we need to find a way to get beyond it.”