Positioning and rebounding are two aspects of the game coaches love to harp on and scream about endlessly in practice and on the sidelines. Lake Braddock head coach Brian Metress must have done his fair share this season.
The Bruins’ work on the boards was apparent during the frenzy that ended Tuesday night’s Northern Region quarterfinal at Mount Vernon High School as Bruins’ senior guard Ian Asinugo had good position, took a last second rebound and scooped it in the basket as the buzzer sounded for a win over the Majors, 58-56.
“My first question was, ‘What happened?’ I didn’t even know what happened. I just looked at the official. I knew the ball went in. He put his arms down and we won,” said Metress.
With the score knotted at 56-56 and under a minute remaining, Metress put the ball in the hands of junior guard Dominic Morra, who scored a game-high 16 points. Morra worked the clock down to the waning seconds, made a move and took an off-balance jump shot.
“I was just the closest one to the basket and I just did a little reverse…and it just went in,” said Asinugo, who scored 9 of his 11 points in the final quarter.
Lake Braddock (17-8) prepared to handle the ball with the clock expiring.
“We practiced the last second shot play before the tournament started and we said on the last second shot play, most of the time you miss. It’s the guys on the boards and we just wanted to make sure we had two on the boards,” said Metress.
Early in the fourth quarter last-second strategy was far from Metress’ mind as Mount Vernon (16-9) capped a 9-2 run that began in the third quarter with a steal and resounding fast break dunk from junior guard Robert Coleman. That put the Majors up 52-43 with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Lake Braddock comeback began as the Bruins went on a 15-4 run, including scoring the last 8 points of the game to advance to the semifinals.
“Our press attack was working real well but they were just controlling the tempo and we had to stop turning the ball over. They just basically run all guards with one center. We just had to shut them all down,” said Asinugo.
Old Dominion University bound DeLancey, the National District’s player of the year, was held in check with 12 points and got help from sophomore guard Robert Smith, 15 points and sophomore forward Skylar Jones with 10 points.
The Majors broke a 29-29 tie to take the lead on a basket from senior forward Kai Blanco with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter. It was a lead they would hold on to until the last moments of the game.
“Our guys played hard. I felt they played hard enough and deserved to win [but] came up short. I feel bad for these guys as a team and felt that we were really right there and deserved to be in the Patriot Center,” said Mount Vernon head coach Alfonso Smith.
Lake Braddock advances to meet fellow Patriot District member T.C. Williams for a fourth time this season. The game is scheduled for Friday night at the George Mason University Patriot Center, 9 p.m. The Titans have beaten Lake Braddock in each of their meetings by an average of almost 16 points.