UPPER MARLBORO – The Wise High School boys’ basketball team came into Friday’s season opener with something to prove to their critics, and they took it out on Parkdale.
The Pumas opened the game on a 9-0 run and never looked back, forcing 26 turnovers as they cruised to a 70-52 win over the Panthers.
“Basically, they’re underestimating us,” Wise senior guard Keith Shivers said. “They haven’t ranked us – the newspaper hasn’t ranked us in the Top 20 in the past two years, and basically we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder. It’s like a smack in the face to us, so basically we’re playing with more energy. We just want to prove to everybody that just because we’re a young team, we can compete with anybody.”
Shivers – who plays his AAU ball for Triple Threat – scored 16 points to lead Wise (1-0), while senior forward John Savoy added 15 points and senior guard Jonathan Allen had 14.
The Panthers (1-2) didn’t score their first basket until senior forward Andrew Green’s lay-up with 2:57 to go in the first quarter. They never got closer than seven points the rest of the game, and trailed by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter.
“I was very pleased with our defensive effort,” Wise coach O.J. Johnson said. “We really preach playing good, strong defense, and I thought we played very well for our first game on the defensive end. We’ve still got to go back to the drawing board and work on a couple of things, but I thought we did a really good job defensively and also in our execution in the second half as far as just running our offense.”
Adrien Straughn led Parkdale with 15 points, while Green had 12.
“Yeah, we just wanted to put it away quick,” Shivers said. “Prove to everybody that we can play, and basically just get ready for a long season, because we’re going to a lot of competition this year.”
The Pumas finished 16-8 last season, and made it to the 4A South Region semifinals before losing to eventual champion Eleanor Roosevelt. They graduated their leading scorer in current University of Massachusetts freshman guard Darryl Traynham and return just two starters, but Johnson said he still has high expectations.
“I really believe the potential’s unlimited,” he said. “Right now we’re still coming together; I actually just added four young men who played on our varsity football team that went to the state championship game. Tuesday was their first practice with us, so they’re still learning the system and still getting their legs back in basketball shape. So, I think once get them rolling, then we should be pretty good once they get back into the mix.”
Shivers agreed, adding that this year’s squad has the talent to improve on last year’s finish.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “Like, we’re on the same page, we all have the drive, we’re all hungry and we all want a championship. These are our brothers, and we’re just going to keep fighting until we reach our goal.”
Straughn 15, Green 12, Jackson 9, Miles 6, Cooley 3, Williams 2, Gordon 1.
Shivers 16, Savoy 15, Allen 14, Carter 5, Thompson 5, R. Smith 4, T. Smith 2, Langston 2, Bassett 1, Bethea 1.
Parkdale 7 14 13 18 – 52
Wise 17 19 13 21 – 70
3-Point Goals—P 3 (Straughn 2, Cooley).W 4 (Shivers 2, Johnson, Thompson). Fouled Out— W (Thompson, T. Smith). Total Fouls— P 19, W 22.