Liberty Heights (NC) 2019 wing Juwan Gary.
SALISBURY, MD - 2019 wing Juwan Gary impressed in his lone Governor’s Challenge appearance in 2017, and he picked up right where he left off in his return trip.
The Alabama commit scored a game-high 27 points to lead Liberty Heights (NC) to a 75-65 win over Wings Academy (NY), putting on a nice display of athleticism and versatility.
The 6-foot-6 Gary scored all of his points from the field, shooting 11-of-19 overall and 5-of-9 from 3-point range to lead the short-handed Cardinals.
“[The key was] Playing as a team,” he said. “We were short 3 people - people got hurt - but it was my turn to lead. Our point guard’s down right now, so I had to step up and be a leader. So that’s what the main thing was - just play as a team and play good defense and run our stuff on offense.”
Last year, Gary attended Gray Collegiate Academy (SC), which played in one game at the Governor’s Challenge and went on to win a South Carolina Class 2A state championship. He transferred to Liberty Heights over the summer.
“It’s not really different,” he said. “These coaches, they coached my AAU team [Team United], so it wasn’t a very big difference to me. This environment and this team is very good. We play together and we’ve had some slow starts at the beginning of the season, but we’re picking it up. This win was a very good win for us and now we’re 6-5, so we’ll continue to keep winning.”
Gary added that it was important for him to get his recruitment wrapped up early so he could play out his senior season.
“Me and my parents talked, and me and Coach Avery [Johnson] had a very good connection when I went on my official visits,” he said. “The coaches made me feel comfortable and very at home, and I’ve got one of my old friends Tevin Mack up there, so he made me feel at home, so it was a very good decision for me to go to Alabama.” (MH)
BOUNDS EMBRACING NEW ROLE FOR DECATUR
After losing do-it-all lead guard Kevon Voyles to graduation, Stephen Decatur is taking an inside-out approach this season behind 2020 forward Churchill Bounds.
The Seahawks have relied on experienced, college-level guards during this stretch of three straight 3A East region titles, but this season, that same backcourt luxury isn’t at their disposal. There’s only one senior guard on the roster (Brett Berquist) as Coach Byron Johnson tries to find some sort of identity within his guards.
In a matter of one summer, Bounds has gone from a learning sophomore to a junior that is the backbone of the half court offense.
“It’s a lot of teaching. It’s a young team,” Bounds, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward, said of his adjusted role. “A lot of these players, it’s their first year on varsity. I have to teach them a lot of things. A lot of it is on my back. Now I’m trying to carry the team, trying to win games for everybody.”
Bounds didn’t have his best stuff in the 54-38 loss to Tallwood on Wednesday afternoon, putting forth 14 points -- still a team-high -- on 7 of 12 shooting and five rebounds, but he’s picked up traction on the recruiting trail as of late. The junior forward has no offers but he’s drawing interest from low-major Division I and Division II basketball programs.
“[College coaches] like how I rebound. They like how I shoot the ball,” said Bounds, who has good vision in the post and a variety of back-to-basket moves. Through the first six games of 2018-19, Bounds has performances of 34 points in the opening-night 59-56 win over Queen Anne’s and 18 and 16 in the 87-44 romp over Pocomoke.
The Seahawks dropped to 4-2 on the season Wednesday, with their other loss to Crisfield by 29 on Dec. 13. They turned the ball over 24 times, a byproduct of that inexperienced backcourt. At this point in the year, though, development is more important than results, especially with the Seahawks aiming for a fourth straight Final Four appearance.
“It’s a learning curve right now,” Bounds said. “Like I said, it’s a young team. The kids are setting in place right now, learning what they have to do, their roles and all that. And I know they’re going to get through that. They are going to get better.”
“It’s going to take a lot of effort. A lot of effort,” Bounds added. “Kids are going to have to be uncomfortable with themselves. That’s going to have to happen if we’re going to make it back to the Final Four.” (KM)
GIBSON STEPS INTO GO-TO ROLE
Seemingly every time Sidwell Friends (DC) needed a play in Wednesday’s game against St. Elizabeth (DE), Jason Gibson was there to make it.
The 2019 guard finished with a game-high 27 points as the Quakers held off a late Vikings run to win, 53-49.
“It wasn’t really anything special [that was working for me], I was just trying to pick my team up,” Gibson said. “We were struggling - especially turning the ball over way too much. We started out with a good quarter, 15-4, and they got back a little bit so I just tried to come in and help our team get up.”
The go-to scorer role is a new one for Gibson following the graduation of former star Saddiq Bey, who is now at Villanova.
“It’s fun, but I also like playing with these guys," he said. "We have 6 seniors, so it's just fun playing with these guys that I’ve played with for a while. We’re just going to stay at it - we have a good record right now - I’ve just got to pick it up and get ready for tomorrow.” (MH)
MURPHY, ST. PETER'S SOLVE THE PRESSURE
St. Peters (NY) looked headed to an easy victory as it built a 39-29 halftime lead against Smyrna (DE).
In the second half, though, Smyrna increased the defensive pressure and cut the deficit to four points in the final two minutes beforeSt. Peters held on for a 67-62 win.
St. Peter’s 2020 forward Liam Murphy admitted his team may have gotten a little comfortable with its lead.
“Yeah I think we did,” he said. “I think right coming out of the gate they didn’t press us too hard in the first or second quarter, and then when they came out with it, I think we were a little tense and throwing up a lot of turnovers - I think we ended up with 16 turnovers, which is obviously too high of a number. But down the stretch, we definitely relaxed and we definitely hit the middle [against the press] and got some easy lay-ups. I think that was what got us the ‘W’ in the end, was the easy shots that we got. It was a good team win.”
The 6-foot-7 Murphy was key to the Eagles’ victory, finishing with a game-high 21 points. He currently lists D-I scholarship offers from American, Arkansas-Little Rock, LIU-Brooklyn, Rider and St. Louis. (MH)
PATTERSON MAKES STATEMENT
One of the day’s most anticipated games was the matchup of Oakdale (Md.) and Patterson (Md.) that had the look of a potential Maryland 2A playoff preview.
The two teams may very well meet somewhere down the road, but Round 1 went to the Clippers - in emphatic fashion.
2019 guard Jalen Willis scored a game-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting as the Clippers pushed the pace and overwhelmed the Bears, 82-62.
“The key was stopping them - just playing defense,” Willis said. “Usually our defense leads to our offense. And then I had a job to stop #2 [Collin Schlee], so that motivated me.”
Schlee, Oakdale’s star 2019 guard, finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds but struggled with some early foul trouble. No other Bears player scored in double figures.
2020 guard Zaccheus Blackwell registered a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who used a decisive 20-2 run in the first quarter to lead 46-25 at the break. (MH, KM)
Several players enjoyed statistically impressive outings on Wednesday’s opening day of Governor’s Challenge action.
Mardela (Md.) 2019 guard Syncere Pinkett opened the day with 16 points and 13 rebounds in a 65-47 win over Concordia Prep (Md.) and the double-double performances kept flowing. Among the most noteworthy:
- 2019 guard Shi’Quhan Williams of Snow Hill (Md.) had 17 points and 18 rebounds in an 80-53 win over Indian River (DE).
- 2020 guard Lethon Williams of Arcadia (Va.) had 19 points and 18 rebounds in a 55-46 win over Washington (DE).
- Forward Jared Vazquez had 14 points and 16 rebounds for Salisbury School in a 62-56 loss to King’s Christian.
- 2019 forward Tyson Brown had 15 points and 13 boards for Kempsville (Va.) in a 66-40 win over Queen Anne’s County (Md.).
- On the girls side, Parkside (Md.) 2022 guard Amanda Ballard had 19 points and 19 boards in her team's 52-46 loss to St. Charles (Md.)
MORE DAY 1 STANDOUTS
Michael Austin, Patterson Mill (Md.)
Corey Barnes, Archbishop Carroll (DC)
Neco Campbell, Friendship Collegiate (DC)
Chris Christian, King’s Christian (Md.)
Justin Cohen, Crisfield (Md.)
Chaz Egan, Walkersville (Md.)
Jamier Felton, Indian River (DE)
Nah’Shon Hyland, St. Georges (DE)
Marquel Jackson, Wings (NY)
Zyaire Johnson, Snow Hill (Md.)
Dasean Jones, Dunbar (Md.)
Kevin Kester, Caravel (DE)
Connor Madsen, Patteson Mill (Md.)
Omar McGann, St. Charles (Md.)
Justin Money, St. Elizabeth (DE)
Jacob Montgomery, Walkersville (Md.)
Kenneth Riley, SEED School (DC)
Nathan Roussey, Patterson Mill (Md.)
Dominique Stanford, Kempsville (Va.)
Nahshon Sylvester, Smyrna (DE)
Latrell Thompson, New Dorp (NY)
Shane Trimmier, Wagner (NY)
Jeriel Zayas, Central Pointe (FL)
Amanda Ballard, Parkside (Md.)
Cate Carlson, Kempsville (Va.)
Gracie Gardner, Worcester Prep (Md.)
Kayla Gray, Kings Christian (Md.)
Aysia Jones, St. Charles (Md.)
Leyanna Pettit, Wicomico (Md.)
Fiona Rowan, Linganore (Md.)
Jada Thornton, Gaithersburg (Md.)
Jaila Walton, St. Charles (Md.)