WASHINGTON – Theodore Roosevelt coach Rob Nickens is working several new players into his program this season, and Saturday against Maret, two of those newcomers rallied the Rough Riders to victory.
Senior transfers Kavon Glover (Frederick Douglass) and Brian Bridgeforth (Anacostia) had 12 and 11 points, respectively, as Roosevelt came back from four points down in the fourth quarter to pick up a 52-48 win over Maret at Archbishop Carroll High School.
The game was played as part of the 3rd Annual Uptown Hoopfest presented by More Than Basketball, which featured eight area teams and squads from North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Junior guard Marlon Beck scored a game-high 14 points for the Frogs, who got 11 points from freshman Austin Vereen and 10 from sophomore Jalen Barnes.
Maret led 34-28 at halftime and 43-39 after three quarters, but was outscored 13-5 in the fourth quarter. The Frogs (3-9) are a very young squad, with their 10-man roster featuring four juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
“We weren’t making shots, we weren’t getting to the line, and we had turnovers,” Maret coach Garrett O’Donnell said. “I think it was a combination of those three things. I mean, we held them to 52 points, and that’s pretty good defensively. We had a couple of little breakdowns, but it was back and forth and they converted and we didn’t. I think our kids played their hearts out, but we just didn’t put the top on it.”
Saturday’s win improved Roosevelt’s record to 7-5 this season. Last year, the Rough Riders went 25-6, winning the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship and narrowly falling to DeMatha in the Abe Pollin City Title Game at the Verizon Center.
Gone from that team, though, are several key players, most notably graduated guards Devin Gallman and Ezell Starks. The lone returning starters are senior guard Antone James and sophomore guard Jerrell Allen.
“Last year’s team and this year’s team is like night and day right now, but we’re getting there,” Nickens said. “We had a bit win at Wilson [Friday] night on the road, and I think playing again tonight hurt us early and our leg were a little done at the beginning. We’ve played three games in four days and it’s been hard, but we were able to get through all three.”
Bridgeforth – a 6-foot-9 center – has proved to be an especially valuable addition to Roosevelt after transferring in the spring. Bridgeforth said he knew Glover, senior guard Hershell Grant and sophomore forward Rontrez Purcell from their AAU team, Metroball.
“I thought I was going to be an OK fit,” Bridgeforth said. ‘Then I knew some players from my AAU team were coming, so that’s when I knew we were going to be alright. … It’s more fun playing with this team, because over at Anacostia it was, like, all ninth graders; I didn’t really know nobody.”
Nickens said Bridgeforth was confused early on as he adjusted to playing down on the block rather than in the high post like he did at Anacostia. That allows him to turn and score instead of having to dribble to put himself in position.
“We’re spacing the floor and we’re letting him touch it,” Nickens said, “and one thing that people don’t know about him is he’s a good passer, also. … I learned a lot about him having him. Potential-wise, it’s through the roof, but I think he’s come a long way. I think he showed tonight that he protects the rim for us, definitely.”
Nickens said that Division I Saint Peters College (NJ) has called to ask about Bridgeforth, adding Division II Bowie State and Virginia State have also shown interest.
“I think as time goes on, some people will start picking up on him,” Nickens said. “We’re getting his SAT scores together now and doing the academic part that he had to correct.’
Roosevelt is scheduled to host Cardozo on Tuesday, while Maret is on the road at Flint Hill.
Marlon Beck 4 4-5 14, Austin Vereen 3 3-6 11, Jalen Barnes 5 0-1 10, Drake Goddard 2 2-3 6, Adam Zeitler 1 0-0 3, Tre Bowens 1 0-0 2, Ture’ Lawrence 1 0-0 2.
Kavon Glover 4 4-6 12, Brian Bridgeforth 5 1-3 11, Jerrell Allen 2 3-3 8, Tavon Alexander 3 0-0 6, Hershell Grant 2 1-4 6, Antone James 2 2-4 6, Marquette Brown 1 0-0 2, Everett Quick 0 1-3 1.
Maret 17 17 9 5 – 48
T. Roosevelt 14 14 11 13 – 52
3-pointers: Maret 3 (Beck 2, Zeitler 1), TR 2 (Allen 1, Grant 1). Total Fouls—M 18, TR 16. Fouled Out – None. Technical fouls – None.
Saturday’s More Than Basketball event was the first of three scheduled high school showcases the organization will hold this season. Upcoming are the Ballin For The Cure Showcase on Jan. 28 at Woodrow Wilson High, and the 2nd Annual Mid Season Showcase on Feb. 19 at Takoma Academy.
“A lot of these teams look forward to playing in our events,” MTB founder Arize Ifejika said, “because they know we go the extra mile with promotion, with the events and the atmosphere. The basketball community has embraced us and what we’re doing, so anytime we have an event, people kind of circle their calendars, you know what I mean?”
Ifejika said it’s rewarding to see an event like Saturday’s come together smoothly, especially given all the work and time that goes into pulling it off.
“All of this is self-funded,” he said. “If we come in here, and if it’s a snowy day and everything’s cancelled, we’re like, ‘Damn, we’re out thousands,’ whereas somebody else is like, ‘Well, Nike will cover it anyway.’ This is all independently-funded, this is our blood, sweat and tears.”
Riverdale Baptist girls 77, H.D. Woodson 76
Bullis 69, Bell 47
Vaux Roberts (PA) 67, Spingarn 65
Theodore Roosevelt 52, Maret 48
Body of Christ (N.C.) 82, Coolidge 79
Top: Theodore Roosevelt's Brian Bridgeforth goes up for a tip-dunk in the first half. Right: Roosevelt sophomore guard Marquette Brown looks over the defense as Maret sophomore Drake Goddard defends. Bottom: Roosevelt senior guard Antone James focuses at the free throw line. - Photos by Marcus Helton, DMV Elite.
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