SILVER SPRING – Being the hunted team is nothing new for the Springbrook Blue Devils. When you’re the three-time defending 4A state champions, after all, it basically comes with the territory.
“It’s fun, for real,” SHS senior guard Enerio Jones said. “It does nothing but get you ready and hyped up each and every game. You’ve just got to come out and play hard every game; you can’t come out lazy, because all the teams are coming to beat us.”
So far, the Blue Devils have held off the bulk of those challenges, improving to 14-1 after a 59-46 win over visiting Montgomery Blair on Monday.
Springbrook’s lone blemish was a 68-67 double overtime loss to Magruder on Dec. 22. The Blue Devils have reeled off nine straight wins since then, avenging the loss to the Colonels in the process.
Jones said he and his teammates are feeling good about their chances of making a run at an unprecedented fourth consecutive state title. Springbrook is already the only school in Maryland history to win three straight 4A crowns.
“I think we’re in a good position this year,” he said. “It’s the same position we were in last year. Last year we lost earlier, but we’re in a good position.”
Jones – who plays his AAU ball for Mid-Atlantic Select – is a big reason why. The 6-0, 170-pounder leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game, and poured in a game-high 22 against Blair. He said he’s received Division I recruiting interest from Towson, St. Francis (Pa), and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Rugged junior forward Demetric Austin is averaging 16 points per game, while senior guard P.J. Purnell is averaging 10.
“They’re very talented,” Blair coach Mark DeStefano said. “Jones is probably the best guard in Montgomery County right now, he’s playing great. And their role guys just did a great job of playing their roles tonight.”
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 17-4 first quarter lead against Blair, and lead by as many as 27 points before emptying their bench in the fourth quarter. Austin finished with 11 points while Purnell added 10.
There were times, though, when it was apparent that Blair wasn’t going to go quit – especially with a chance to upset the Blue Devils.
“Yeah, definitely,” Jones said. “There were a lot of times when we were up a lot but they would get a lay-up or a steal and the whole team was in it. It was like they were gaining momentum. Anytime they would get a lay-up or anything, they would just get real hyped and into the game.”
Even in victory, Springbrook coach Tom Crowell saw plenty of room for improvement. Crowell said he thought his team played well at times, but missed too many high-percentage shots.
“I thought it was a sloppy game,” Crowell said. “For being off a week – we hadn’t played since last Monday – I guess it’s to be expected and at times. I thought our defensive intensity was alright. But everybody got to play, and that’s the best thing. We were up 16 at the half, and then we went up by 25 or 26 and then we kind of emptied the bench a little bit. I think we’ve got to play better down the stretch here, but I guess that’s to be expected after a week off and only one practice.”
Brown 9, Ruffin 9, Liou 6, Canary 5, Gaskin 5, Babinec 4, Narcisse 3, Whitney 3, Koite 2, Shack 2.
Jones 22, Austin 11, Purnell 10, Watson 8, Christian 3, Adjei 2, Ferguson 2.
Blair 4 12 7 23 – 46
Springbrook 17 15 18 9 – 59
3-Point Goals—B 2 (Liou, Narcisse), S 4 (Jones 2, Christian, Purnell). Totals Fouls: B 19, S 18. Technical Fouls— S (Haddock).