In the aftermath of his team’s most lopsided loss of the season Saturday, 82-67 against DuVal in the Spartan Classic at Laurel High School, Reservoir coach Mike Coughlan made a point of focusing on the big picture.
His prevailing message: “Short-term loss, for long-term gain.”
“We got exposed for some things tonight, but if it helps us down the stretch, and this is something that we can come back and reference, then this is good for us,” Coughlan said. “I’d rather be down here and take our lumps than somewhere else and just going through the motions. For the long term this will make us better.”
DuVal, which picked up its sixth straight victory, lived up to its billing as one of Prince George’s county’s powerhouse programs. The Tigers raced out of the gates, scoring seven points in the first minute, and never slowed down.
Point guard Michael Cunningham spearheaded the DuVal attack all evening, pushing the tempo, hitting the glass (10 rebounds) and scoring all over the floor on his way to a career-high 32 points.
One night after one of his worst games of the season, scoring just nine points in a narrow victory over Dunbar, Cunningham was literally at his best.
“I felt like it had to be a big night for me because I had real bad game yesterday … my team needed me to come out and play strong,” said Cunningham, who hit four 3-pointers and also dished out five assists. “I was determined to bounce back tonight.”
Reservoir (4-2, 5-3), which saw its own five-game winning streak snapped, actually managed to match DuVal’s scoring barrage for the first 10 minutes.
After falling behind 9-2 early, the Gators responded with their own 7-0 run to force the first of four ties in the opening quarter. Matt Christian (9 points) was especially strong during the opening minutes, at one point scoring seven straight Reservoir points.
Then, after DuVal started to pull away again, Kyle Reilly (19 points) came off the bench to knock down three straight 3-pointers to start the second quarter and make it 28-26 in favor of the Tigers with 6:02 left before halftime.
But for as efficient as his Gators were being offensively, Coughlan knew that the little things that his team wasn’t doing on the other end defensively were eventually going to catch up to them.
“I told them if it’s going to be a free for all, we’re not going to win that way against a team like that,” Coughlan said. “We played right into their hands … not getting back on defense and not rebounding the basketball.”
Sure enough, DuVal closed the half on a 16-2 spurt to open up a 14-point cushion. The Tigers then kept their foot on the accelerator to open the third quarter, pushing the lead up to 21 points, 53-32, in a span of less than three minutes.
“We’re not as big as everyone else, so we like to play up and down,” Cunningham said. “We get it going and we just keep pushing it … there aren’t too many teams that can run with us.”
Reservoir never got closer than 14 during the second half.
DuVal ended up with four guys in double figures scoring, with Charles Ekeanyanwu (11 points), Paris Jones (10) and Edward Polite (10) joining Cunningham in that category.
DuVal 82, Reservoir 67
D (3-2, 6-2): Cunningham 32, Ekeanyanwu 11, Jones 10, Polite 10, Holmes 6, Alexander 4, Patterson 4, Dickerson 3, Finley 2.
Re (4-2, 5-3): Reilly 19, Christian 9, Simms 9, Brooks 8, Henry 6, Franklin 6, Toler 6, Williams 4.
Half: 44-28 D.
Glenelg Country 74, Largo 68
The Dragons finished in third place in the Mt. Vernon Holiday Tournament.
GC (3-3, 7-6): Boyd 28, Powers 24, Flores 9, Willis 8, Williams 3, Rajovic 2.
L: Gardner 23, Bundu 12, Carter 10, Ihearauh Jr. 10, Majors 6, Thompson Jr. 6, Nickerson 1.
Half: 43-29 GC.