Marriotts Ridge got a scare Thursday afternoon, but in the end the Mustangs did just enough to edge Howard, 76-72, and keep their win streak alive at Waverly Woods.
Alex Pak led the way with 22 points for Marriotts Ridge, but it was freshman Justin Allen (20 points) that delivered in the clutch with the match on the line to help seal the victory. With his team ahead by just three shots entering the final hole, Allen calmly hit his approach into the par 4 ninth hole to within 15 feet and then two-putted for a clinching par.
“All the pressure was on me kind of going to the last hole and then I hit a really good shot in there … and saved par,” Allen said. “[Being a freshman] it’s like really tough because you know that you are coming into a good team and it’s like you want to play [well].”
Having gone undefeated each of the last four seasons against county competition, Marriotts Ridge (3-0) had to legitimately sweat it out in the latter stages against a Howard team that was led by a match-best 23 points from Brett Pool.
The Lions, which also got 19 points from Shashank Gupta in their first group, actually won the top pairing by a point over Pak and David Stephens (19 points). But ultimately it was the second group that decided the match and Allen and Isaac Kim (15 points) did just enough to pull things out.
“Justin played really well again and it was nice to see him come through when the team needed him. You could almost feel the whole team exhale when he hit that approach on the last hole,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “Today was a good learning experience because we didn’t play our best, but sometimes that’s when you really find out the most about yourself as a team.”
On the other side, Howard coach Joshua McGoun said going through that kind of high-pressure situation should only benefit his team moving forward.
“It was fun and thrilling to watch, especially when you consider the Marriotts Ridge pedigree of being a great team year in and year out,” McGoun said. “To be able to hang with a team like that was something special and I think you can see already they are playing with a little more confidence than last year. The hope is that this will carry us forward into the season.”
Marriotts Ridge has now passed two of its tougher tests on the way to a potential fifth straight county title. The team opened the year with a 92-80 victory over River Hill.
Showdowns with Mt. Hebron (Sept. 12) and Glenelg (Sept. 14) are among the biggest regular season matches left.
But, big picture, Allen knows that he and his teammates need to keep improving and work on consistency.
“I feel confident because we are the type of team that will keep practicing, you know keep working at our game,” he said. “We can get better as a team, not just [as individuals].”
Marriotts Ridge 76, Howard 72
MR (3-0): Pak 22, Allen 20, Stephens 19, Kim 15.
Ho (1-1): Pool 23, Gupta 19, Wheeler 18, McLamb 12.
Mt. Hebron 84, Wilde Lake 55The Vikings continued their hot start, having three players shoot 22 points or better en route to the team’s highest team total of the year. Ryan Jung and Sung Kim each fired rounds of 23 points, while Lake Lloyd was right behind them with 22 points.
Ryan Van Tine rounded out the scoring for Mt. Hebron with 16 points.
Eric Schneider paced Wilde Lake in the loss with 22 points.
MH (3-0): Jung 23, Kim 23, Lloyd 22, Van Tine 16.
WL (1-2): Eric Schneider 22, Tiffey 16, Evan Schneider 13, Arsenault 4.
Glenelg 78, Atholton 58
The Gladiators remained unbeaten behind a third straight 25-point effort from Caleb Taylor. The freshman has now fired two-over par rounds in his first three matches, giving him the county’s best boys scoring average so far.
Brandon Writt (20 points) also played a solid round for Glenelg. Branden Nguyen’s 24 points led the way for Atholton in the loss.
G (3-0): Taylor 25, Writt 20, Mobley 17, Forester 16.
A (1-2): Nguyen 24, Grimsley 14, Chong 11, Dotson 9.
Centennial 83, Hammond 38
After opening with a loss earlier in the week, the Eagles bounced back in a big way by cruising past the Golden Bears. Ty Sams scored a team-best 24 points, while Jake Watson (22 points) and Takumi Fukuzawa (21) were right behind him. Saylan Patel then rounded out the Centennial scoring with 16 points.
Aiden Witt scored a team-best 15 points for Hammond in the loss.
C (1-1): Sams 24, Watson 22, Fukuzawa 21, Patel 16.
Ha (0-3): Witt 15, Gaffere 14, Hewitt 9.
Reservoir 42, Long Reach 26
The Gators earned their first victory of the season, with Tyler Welsh leading the way with 18 points.
Re (1-2): Tyler Welsh 18, Teodori 10, John Welsh 9, Panza 5.
LR (0-3): Omar Hussain 11, Haley 8, Lewis 6, Sammy Hussain 1.
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