UPPER MARLBORO — It was a typical Eleanor Roosevelt-Wise classic on the hardwood, with haymakers teetering the scoreboard and a packed house on its feet, screaming apprehensively as Round 3 between these two heated Prince George’s County rivals reached the waning seconds.
Eleanor Roosevelt just went up three with 19.3 seconds to go, and all the Raiders had to do was get one last stop. But like it’s played out so many teams between these perennials, it wouldn’t end that way. Pumas’ offensive engine Sherwyn Devonish barreled up the floor, started a weave with two teammates, and got ball back deep in the right wing, where he then buried the overtime-forcing triple at the buzzer that spilled hundreds of fans onto the floor.
Unfazed by the chaos, Raiders coach Brendan O’Connell instantly huddled his team benchside. It was in that moment the two-time state champion coach erased a defensive blunder and instead ignited a surge that turned away Wise’s sizeable comeback.
The No. 5 Raiders shutout the No. 2 Pumas in OT, savoring a 70-57 victory one year after their rival delivered the same kind of heartbreak.
“The kids work so hard,” O’Connell said. “Last year was so disappointing. Wise clearly had a better team last year. But we felt like we had that game. A lot of our kids are new. But for the kids who [took that loss last year], I know this feels good.”
O’Connell wanted his players to foul on the final play of regulation, since Wise was in the bonus and needed a triple to extend the game. But Wise’s weave that slowed Eleanor Roosevelt’s rotations disallowed that from happening.
“Luckily we got enough stops,” O’Connell said.
Eleanor Roosevelt, which outscored Wise 13-0 in the extra period, received 21 points from forward Isaiah Gross and 18 from guard Juston Bailey. Cameron Brown added 15 points and Jaden Faulkner pitched in with 11. The Raiders will now host Bladensburg on Friday night, with a shot to win their second state title in three years.
Two minutes into the second quarter, the third installment between the two was spiraling out of control. Eleanor Roosevelt led 22-7 with six minutes left before halftime, stifling Wise with a mean 2-3 zone. The Pumas started the contest 3-for-14 with four turnovers.
That’s when Wise turned up the defensive dial, and forced 10 straight Eleanor Roosevelt misses in the second quarter to pull within 23-16. The Raiders’ halftime lead stuck at seven, as they only mustered one field goal in the second frame.
The Pumas’ leading scorer, Devonish, went scoreless in the first half and checked out of the game because of the foul trouble, but inserted himself in a timely fashion out of the break. Two free throws and a 3-pointer that ensued off a steal knotted it up at 30-30 with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
The lead changed hands 11 times the rest of the way, leading up to those climatic moments at the tailend of regulation. On Monday, Eleanor Roosevelt trailed Bowie by 22. Composure keyed a comeback and paved a way, an opportunity for redemption on Wednesday. Composure once again paved a way, but this time, it resounded in sweetness rather than bitterness as the Raiders partied in the visiting locker room, all the way back to Beltsville.
“It feels good, but we have another one on Friday,” Brown said. “We’ll prepare for that tomorrow. We still have some games to win.”