POTOMAC – Last season, the Potomac High School boys varsity basketball team dispatched Oxon Hill three consecutive times including a two-point victory in the playoffs.
On Jan. 12, the rivalry continued as the two faced off for a Friday night showdown.
Both teams came into the match with only one loss during the season. Led by the team play of their starting five, all scoring in double-figures, the Clippers got their long-awaited payback from last season with an 82-73 road victory over the Wolverines.
Oxon Hill junior point guard Ronald Polite finished with a team-high 18 points.
“I just want to get up good shots, manage the team, keep my team intact and make great plays for my team,” Polite said. “If I’m doing good moving the ball and they are knocking down shots, then that’s good. If they are missing, then I have to try and get a bucket…Whatever is best for my team.”
The first half of the game was tightly contested. The Wolverines were the aggressors in the beginning as they fed off the home crowd and got off to a fast start. Potomac closed out the first period with a four-point lead (17-13).
In the second quarter, Oxon Hill played well enough to tie the game up at 35 by halftime.
“We weren’t rotating well enough on defense in the first half,” said junior combo guard Michael Sumner, who finished with 14 points, two steals and two blocks. “Our defense picked up in the second half really well.”
Not only did the defense for Oxon Hill pick up, after halftime but the offense did as well. They looked like an entirely different team than they did in the first half. A big part of that second-half surge was due to the play of senior forward Marcus Gorham. After a rough first half due to some turnovers, Gorham scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half.
“I just wanted to win the game,” Gorham said. “We haven’t beat them in the last two years. They went more pass and spread out in their zone in the second half. My job is to score, rebound and do whatever else I need to do.”
Oxon Hill had their best period in the third when they scored 24 and held Potomac to just 17 points, which gave them a seven-point lead. Senior guard Kalonji Parker was a key contributor to that third quarter success with his play on both sides of the ball. Parker finished the game with 17 points (five three-pointers) and four steals.
“On offense, I’m just a run and shoot guy,” Parker said. “They get the rebound, pitch it to me and I am ready to shoot all the time. When I get my shots, and my team gets me the ball, we have a better chance of winning. When I start hitting shots, the other team starts keying on me, and that opens up the floor for my team.”
In the final quarter, Oxon Hill sealed the deal as they went up by as much as 15 points. Potomac made a strong effort in the closing minutes as they cut the lead down to single digits, but it was too late. Potomac was led by senior point guard Sincere Jones, who scored a game-high 20 points, and junior guard Corey Dyches who scored 18 points.
Senior forward Jorarei Bile was the X-factor in this game. Bile is known as a defensive specialist but finished the game with 17 points, which was tied for second highest on his team.
“My teammates were setting me up today,” Bile said. “I was setting screens, moved around, got open and executed. In the first half we were kind of gambling on plays, but in the second half we were sharper.”
With the win, Oxon Hill now improves to 5-1, while Potomac falls to 6-2.
“We are just trying to continue to build off successes,” Oxon Hill Head Coach Lewis Howard said. “Winning this game propels us to the next game, and we will see Potomac again.
“We need just need to improve on rebounding the basketball. I thought in the second half we did a better job at rebounding the basketball and that created opportunities for us in transition, and we go some easy buckets.”