April 23, 2018

Justin Moore, recovering from an ACL tear, shines as No. 1 DeMatha routs Oak Ridge (Fla.)

Justin Moore (pictured) scored 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting during Saturday night's win over Oak Ridge (Fla.). Kyle McFadden/MSA.

HYATTSVILLE — When DeMatha guard Justin Moore tore his ACL in the first week of January, he didn’t have a choice when it came to a workout routine. The injury sidelined the now junior guard for months, but on the contrary, it empowered an underdeveloped upper body, something college coaches and scouts often got on him for.

Over the next six months, Moore’s workout schedule consisted of a few things: Crushing weights and chiseling his frame, so when winter rolled around, he’ll produce with physical maturity rather than relying on pure talent.

“Since I couldn’t play, I was doing a lot of upper body stuff,” Moore said. 

On Saturday night in No. 1 DeMatha’s rout of Florida stalwart Oak Ridge in the National Hoopfest, 84-69, Moore reaped the benefits of all those hours in the weight room, as he motored up and down the floor with his stronger self to produce a game-high 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting. He also connected on all five shots from behind the arc and had a 12-point second quarter in which the Stags were up 24 at halftime.

“When I hit a couple shots, it feels like the basket gets bigger,” Moore said. “After that, it’s over.”

And really, though, after Moore dropped his first bucket of the night, it was all but over. The junior got going with a layup off a pick-and-roll that gave DeMatha a 6-2 lead. When Oak Ridge hung around after eight minutes, trailing 23-16, Moore took over. Two free throws off a technical foul pushed the lead to nine, and on the same possession, Moore’s 3-ball upped the Stags’ advantage to 28-16. Moore hit another trey and finished two crafty layups that ignited a 13-0 run before half, which swelled DeMatha’s lead from 33-22 to 46-22.

Moore opened the second half the same way he ended the first, by canning a triple. This time the Stags’ lead grew to 48-24, and not long after, another Moore triple backed a 9-0 run that gave DeMatha its largest cushion of the night, 77-35.

In the first quarter, Moore played with his bulky knee brace, but in the second, he ditched it. Wearing the brace often creates barriers with him mentally, which prompted Moore to take it off. Afterward, he said his knee “feels good.”

“He’s not 100 percent, I think he’ll tell you,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “When he gets that brace, I think it goes to another level or two. His ability to get around and shoot the ball easier — he’s really toned his body up — but when he gets that brace off, he plays freely. He’s gotten a lot better, but he’s got a lot more in him.”

Moore mulls offers from Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Penn State Xavier, Villanova and Wake Forest

For the most part, it’s a statement win for the Stags. At one point, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference favorites staked a 42-point lead and were never under duress, shooting a cool 62.5 percent (30-for-48) for the game, 50 percent from deep (8-for-16) and assisted on 66.7 percent of baskets (20 of 30). Midway through the fourth quarter, they unloaded their bench. Keep in mind, Oak Ridge boasts 5-star recruit Emmitt Williams (21 points and nine rebounds) and finished 2016-17 ranked 11th in Florida by MaxPreps.

DeMatha, which hasn’t won a WCAC title since 2010, will surely get tested Sunday night, as Archbishop Wood awaits — the 20th-ranked team nationally by MaxPreps.

“Archbishop Wood is really good; we got to take a totally different mental approach,” Jones said. “Once we get into our league play, every night is a dog fight.”

Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson pieced together a solid performance, posting 12 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting to go along with six assists, five rebounds and two blocks. Junior guard Earl Timberlake, a transfer from Rock Creek Christian, scored 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Junior guard Jahmir Young added 15 points, four points and three assists.

But Saturday night was about Moore, who suffered and persevered through the scariest injury of them all. With the right mentality, he’s come out better than ever before and earned MVP honors on the national stage. Afterward, he received a turquoise-toned, glass trophy, and when he ambled back to the locker room, former DeMatha standout Markelle Fultz — the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and current Philadelphia 76ers guard — was there to congratulate him. Fultz dapped up his old playing partner, snatched the trophy and playfully pretended to place it in a nearby trashcan. Moore wanted his well-earned hardware back.

“Hey! Watch yourself,” Moore told Fultz. “I worked hard for that.”

About Kyle McFadden 416 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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