HYATTSVILLE – In the Capitol Hoops Summer League this season, the DeMatha High School boys basketball team got off to a rough start with a 1-2 record. Since the Stags last loss to St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School on June 10, DeMatha looked like a new team with a 3-0 record since then before taking on Richard Montgomery High School on June 23.
Montgomery was coming off of their biggest win of the season with a 31-point victory over Our Lady of Mount Carmel last week and have won two of their previous three games.
Due to a basketball event at the University of Maryland, DeMatha was without many of their players, which included their entire starting lineup. That meant that other players had to step up on the fly including first-year students that had not taken a high school course yet.
“A lot of guys were in a position that they’re not used to,” DeMatha Head Coach Mike Jones said. “Half of our team is up at the University of Maryland.
We started two incoming freshmen and a lot of other guys that have never played a varsity minute before. Talent wise, no matter what guys we put out there, we feel our talent can be successful. We just got to get guys ready to cease that moment.”
With a depleted lineup, DeMatha could not overcome Richard Montgomery and lost by double-digits, 80-70.
Coming into this game, Montgomery’s big man Olivier Nkamhoua had been a nightmare for opposing team’s defenses. He was fresh off a 23-point, 11 rebound effort against Mount Carmel and continued his dominant play against DeMatha.
He scored 17 points in the first half as DeMatha had no answer for him. Although Nkamhoua was very aggressive in the first half, DeMatha did not give up or give in. They kept the game competitive and went into halftime only down six points.
The first half struggles for DeMatha came on the defensive end. The Stags let Montgomery shoot 64 percent from the field overall and 50 percent from the three-point line. KJ Holton, Jr. led DeMatha in the first half with nine points in six minutes.
“In the first half, we were making a lot of shots,” forward Steve Settle said. “I feel like our heads weren’t in the game. After they made a couple of threes, I feel like we just lost hope. We were missing a lot of our players, and we didn’t really play that well together. We didn’t play as a team like we normally do.”
In the second half, Montgomery continued to dominate behind Nkamhoua’s game-high of 30 points. They outscored DeMatha in the second half, as they shot 59 percent from the field. DeMatha struggled in the second half offensively as they shot 38.5 percent from the floor. Guard Greg Browner led DeMatha with 15 points, Holton tallied 12 points and Settle dropped eight points.
“I feel as though the other team competed harder than us,” Holton said. “They had fewer mistakes than us, and they played more as a team. We were missing a couple of players, but it shouldn’t stop there. We just have to compete harder and it’s always ‘next man up.’ I felt that in the second half we got softer and they continued to play harder than us, and it was if we almost gave up.”
Although this was a tough loss for DeMatha with only three games left in the season, Coach Jones believes his team is fine and that they will be playing in the postseason.
“We just have to keep growing,” Jones said. “Summer league is about development and to get the opportunity to get on the court and make the mistakes they made or to have some success and realize that, ‘Hey I can do this at this level.’ We have three games before the playoffs start and we have to start winning some games to make the playoffs. We have the opportunity to do that, and we shall see. The cavalry arrives next week.”