By Greg Gulas
Last year in the Lariccia See Them Rise High School Basketball Showcase, George Junior Republic humbled Campbell Memorial, 81-50 decision.
Sunday at the Covelli Centre, it was the Red Devils doing the humbling. They scored early and often, building an early lead then watching a Tigers’ shot from beyond the arc fall off the rim as time expired.
Jeremy Vasquez scored 13 points while George Billiris and D.J. Harrison each scored 12 as Campbell (4-10) trailed just once in a 66-63 victory.
“We felt that in order to win we would have to slow them down, rebound at both ends of the court, score in transition and play at our speed,” Red Devils coach Mike Szenborn said. “Building an early lead and placing four players in double figures really helped because we missed 12 free throws in the final period alone, which made things rather interesting. “We’re young and still a work in progress and until we learn how to win, then we are going to have those growing pains,” Szenborn said. “We struggled early in the season but we’re coming around now and I really like how we have grown as a team.”
Quamere Boggs hit the opening bucket for George Jr. Republic (4-8) just nine seconds into the game, but the Red Devils countered with a 7-2 run.
Billiris scored six of his 12 points in the opening quarter.
Seven points each by Vasquez and DaRon Clinkscale enabled the Red Devils to stretch their lead to 37-24 at intermission.
“Our game plan was to slow them down and rebound,” Vasquez said. “They’re quick and very athletic so we wanted to minimize any damage with any runs that they might make.
For the most part we were able to do that,” Vasquez said. “We needed to keep their point guard, Nafis Brown in check and just make sure that he didn’t create too many scoring opportunities when the ball was in his hands.”
Four points each by Harrison and Vasquez after the intermission enabled the Red Devils to open their largest lead of the game, 52-34 heading to the final quarter.
“Playing the game at our speed was definitely the key. When we play solid defense, rebound and make our free throws then we can be a good team. We just have to stop beating ourselves,” Billiris said.
With Campbell ahead 62-52, Dominic Barnes helped keyed a 7-2 run for the Tigers.
The Red Devils missed their final seven free throws, the last coming with six seconds remaining and enabled the Tigers to get down the court.
O’Shay Toney’s triple from the left corner fell off the rim as time ran expired.