by Jacob Bogage
Magruder Colonels 75- Sherwood Warriors 68 (OT)
MPSSAA 4A State Semi-Finals
Magruder head coach Dan Harwood likes to claim he has the best shooters in the state on his roster. After the Colonels’ (25-1) performance Thursday night in the stat semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center, he may be right.
Guards Nick Griffin, J.J. Epps and Justin Witmer shot a combined 54 percent on the night and scored 53 points between them to lead Magurder to a 75-68 win over crosstown rival Sherwood (19-8).
“[Epps’s] pull-up jump shot has been working all year and he’s got maybe the best pull-up jump shot in the D.C.-area,” Harwood said. “And we’ve got two of the best shooters in Nick and Justin.”
It was Epps’s (16 points) jumper that did in the Warriors on this night. Even as Griffin and Witmer contributed 19 and 18 points respectively, it was Epps’s dead-eye pull-up that extended Magruderruns and kept Sherwood at bay.
He knocked down two jumpers almost from the same place to preserve Magruder’s 14-5 run to take a 28-19 lead at the half. Sherwood mounted a charge in the third cutting the lead to three with 25 seconds remaining in the period. A pair of layups from Witmer and Royster brought the Colonel lead to seven to end the frame.
In the fourth quarter, Scott Bolen took over for the Warriors, scoring 12 of his game-high 26 points in the quarter, including a NBA-range three pointer with 4.8 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
“That was lucky,” Bolen said of his game-tying bucket. “I saw they were doubling off the handoffs and once I got it, I saw they were both waiting to trap and if I stayed right behind it no one would pick me up. And I really wasn’t focused on how far away it was, I just wanted to give our team the best chance to get into overtime and I thought maybe a three would help since we were down three.”
But Epps was not fazed and in the extra session hit yet another pull-up jumper after Griffin hit three free throws to put the Colonels up for good.
“J.J.’s really got it working. It’s a shot you don’t see nowadays. It’s kind of a lost art shot, that pull-up jumper from 12 to 15 feet,” Harwood said,“and J.J.’s the best I’ve ever coached at that.”
The Colonels advance to face the Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders in the state championship on Saturday at the Comcast Center. The Raiders defeated reigning state champion North Point on a buzzer beater at Comcast Center just before the Warriors and Colonels took the floor.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm.