TAKOMA PARK, Md. -- Following the Mount Carmel (Essex, Md.) versus DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) outcome last week led some to believe Baltimore hoops talent remains a good bit behind the D.C. crop of young ballers.
While bright future stars such as Montez Mathis and David Erebor provide Mount Carmel with a promising outlook and future, the Stags had little trouble last week impressing a full Takoma Academy gym and proving once again who still owns the BWI corridor in the 2015 Maryland Private School Championships.
Through all of the weather delays and postponements, the 14-team field was dwindled to two. The number one seed from Hyattsville, DeMatha, and the runner up of the Baltimore Private School Championship, Mount Carmel, were in the house as the season wound to almost a close, sans for the Alhambra Tournament the following weekend.
Of course, TT was there to evaluate Markelle Fultz, as well as Mathis, again, among others. The contest started quickly for DeMatha as it raced to a 27-12 lead following the first quarter. MC play was flat and at times sloppy. It seemed they were stunned by the crisp play and fast tempo created by DeMatha coach Mike Jones as well as a noticeable size difference.
DeMatha began the game on a 9-0 run with a mixture of double teams and full court press. Mount Carmel was unprepared for the Stags’ quickness and suddenness for most of the evening.
The junior and Terps target Fultz had his way in the first half, scoring with a variety of strong, quick moves to the hole, easily defeating his opponent. Flutz is an above average athlete, not elite, but uses his size, explosion and court awareness/vision to break down opponents.
At the next level, he will have the ability to play either guard position due to his tight handle, smart decision making and shot selection. At this time, he is more at times a streaky outside shooter, which may improve in time. His greatest asset may be getting in the lane and finding open shooters for an easy three.
Fultz has great body control and rarely draws charges. On this night, no one was going to stop Fultz. Terps fans should know he plays very hard at both ends of the floor. His defense is suffocating and he has no problem getting down and dirty for loose balls and setting picks for teammates.
Fultz stats on the night included 15 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and numerous deflections. If you include the mishandled balls by his teammates, which lead to turnovers, Fultz’s numbers would have expanded.
By halftime, The Stags had pulled away to lead 44-22.
The second half was much of the same, although MC came out with some fire and behind Mathis and Erebor made a third quarter run. It seemed Mathis was singlehandedly trying to bring them all the way back after a near scoreless first half.
He is very poised for a freshman, but like Fultz trying to gain confidence in his outside shot. He may have attempted only two or three shots from beyond the arc the entire game.
Since Mathis wasn't feeling it outside, he decided to lower his shoulder, use his great balance and take it inside with each possession. He exhibited an excellent baseline floater once he created space. And when that was unavailable he was excellent at drawing fouls and getting to the stripe.
He is very comfortable anywhere on the court and is the player you want on the free throw line late in a game. A key turning point in the game was a missed breakaway dunk by Mathis midway through the fourth quarter.
This may have destroyed some momentum MC had built with a nice 18-8 run on the Stags in the third period. But it will be exciting no doubt to watch Mathis for the next three years. The sky is the limit for this freshman sensation.
MC's Erebor never found the flow of the game. He had great trouble trying to elude DeMatha’s Thomas Bruce, who blocked or stole many of the balls intended for him. However, when the chips were down in the fourth quarter, Erebor came alive with three buckets and became a defensive stalwart with four rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
It was a tremendous effort that, unfortunately, came a bit too late. It will be interesting to see Erebor progress his game further this spring and into the fall. He is a big man with very good athleticism who needs to be coached up more on the blocks and give complete effort every night out.
Stag D.J. Harvey had somewhat of an off night, scoring just 10 points while grabbing three boards and dishing two dimes. He also added a beautiful in-your-face block. He left the game a couple of times and came back quickly. But he may have been under the weather due to a decrease in his usual high level of energy and bounce seen in his games this year.
But it was a treat to watch Harvey and Fultz on the court simultaneously. They work the flow of the game well together. Either can handle the point, or play the two or the three at any time. So they kept MC guessing all night.
And Harvey has beautiful touch with his shot. He is only going to get better. However on this night, it was Fultz that controlled the outcome with more consistency.
The final score was 64-51, as DeMatha cruised to victory in the fourth quarter to continue its dominance in the area. The Terps staff was in the house, as it has been many times this year, seeing both teams and their star guards play.
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