HYATTSVILLE – Laurel and Northwestern had an aggressive, hard-fought encounter on Jan. 12 in Hyattsville during a boys high school basketball regular season match.
As the two teams went back-and-forth throughout the game, Laurel prevailed with a 75-60 win due to their advantage on the glass.
Laurel came out the gates as the aggressors going on a 9-0 run to start the game, which forced Northwestern to use an early timeout.
Northwestern fought back with an 8-0 run to cut Laurel’s lead down to one. Between Laurel’s dominance on the boards and their tenacious defense, they ended the first quarter on a 9-2 run and took an 18-10 lead into the second quarter.
“In the first half, we were one step behind them offensively and defensively,” Northwestern Head Coach Terrance Burke said. “We couldn’t get out rebounding together in the first half. The one-on-one defense was killing us. We didn’t stay with our gameplan, and we took a lot of shots that we shouldn’t have.”
The second quarter was a back-and-forth scoring battle as neither team let the other have the upper hand.
Every time Northwestern scored, Laurel came right back with an answer. Northwestern ended the quarter on an 8-4 run which gained them some momentum over Laurel as they went into halftime.
Led by senior Vondell Livingston, Laurel continued to bully Northwestern in the paint down low, which helped them maintain a 31-26 lead going into halftime despite Northwestern’s late surge.
“The main thing I do is box out well,” Livingston said, who finished with 14 rebounds that night. “I see players loafing around, and I go get the rebound, but defense is my main priority. That’s all I focus on and let the offense come to me.”
Despite their best efforts, Northwestern could not stop Laurel’s three-point shooting, led by senior Michael Joyner Laurel torched them in the third quarter.
With consecutive three’s, Laurel went on an 18-8 run and took a 49-34 lead late in the third period. After a red-hot third quarter, missed layups and opportunities by Northwestern, Laurel went into the final quarter with a 53-39 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Northwestern forced multiple turnovers but could not turn those opportunities into points.
With just over three minutes left in the game, Northwestern showed some fight and went on a 6-0 run to bring Laurel’s lead down to single-digits for the first time since the second quarter. However, Laurel hit some more clutch shots to close the game out.
“Offensively we were taking bad shots, but then we started to come together and started to score better,” Laurel senior Delahney Williams said, who finished with 22 points.
“Before the season, I mainly played off-ball, so I was just a shooter. At the end of the summer, I started taking over and going to the basket more.
“Tonight, they just kept sending the left side of the court open the whole time, so I just kept taking that and attacking it. Offensively we were taking bad shots, but then we started to come together and started to score better.”
Laurel has now won six games in a row and is 9-3 on the season. Although they secured another win, Laurel Head Coach Kenny Lloyd knows that there is still work left to be done after this game.
“We don’t want to hug on the weak side,” Lloyd said. We want to play off, sit in the middle and be disciplined. I think when we were up at five points at halftime, it was smoke in mirrors because we weren’t clicking offensively.
“We were allowing them to get in-lane penetration. If they would miss the shot, it would lead to an offensive rebound and a putback.
“We weren’t doing what we needed to do defensively in the point range we wanted to, but we just weren’t fundamentally sound. The second half we settled down a little bit and did us.
“We started to share the ball a little bit more, got the ball swinging from side to side and then we started running our back-action stuff. Once the offense started to click, then you can play a little bit freer.”