Gwynn Park senior center Marcel Boyd provided his usual production on the defensive end and in the offensive low post, but the team utilizing him as a decoy helped put the Yellow Jackets past Potomac Friday night.
Leading by two with less than two minutes remaining, Boyd provided two assists leading to four crucial points as Gwynn Park held off Potomac 61-55.
The 13-point lead that Gwynn Park enjoyed midway through the fourth quarter suddenly shrunk to two points late in the game. Coach Mike Glick called a timeout, and he knew that his team’s offense, which had suddenly gone stagnant, needed a jolt.
Leading 53-51, Gwynn Park (14-4, 13-1 Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A) quickly broke Potomac’s full-court press. Like several other instances in the game, they looked to Boyd to make a play in the post. Instead of looking for his own shot, Boyd dished it to a cutting Jarvis Hawkins for a momentum-shifting layup to put the Yellow Jackets ahead by four. After getting a defensive stop, they would repeat this tactic on an inbounds play with Boyd giving it to fellow senior Xavier Richards who made the layup while being fouled.
Boyd, the 6-foot-9 Howard commit, provided a steady force in the low post on both ends of the court, tallying 11 points, 16 rebounds, and six blocked shots. For Potomac coach Renard Johnson, it was difficult to prepare for such an imposing player.
“He’s a true big man,” Johnson said. “We haven’t really faced a guy like him the whole year. I wish him well next year at Howard University. They’re very fortunate to have him.”
Despite Boyd’s modest offensive output, Glick says that the way shorter opponents play him in the league inhibits his ability to succeed on the offensive end.
“He’s probably one of the biggest underrated big men in our area,” Glick said. “He doesn’t have as bad an offensive game as people think, but everybody’s game plan is to [double-team] him so we just try to make him into a better passer.”
Potomac standout sophomore Dion Wiley proved to be just as much of a problem for Gwynn Park. Wiley scored a game-high 22 points – including making six of 14 from the three-point line – and added eight rebounds.
“He’s probably one of the best sophomores in the [area],” Glick said. “I thought we did a very poor job guarding him from the first play of the game to the very end.”
Richards would also post a double-double with a team-high 16 points, as well as 10 rebounds and four blocks. After being shut out in the first half, Hawkins provided 14 critical points off the bench.
Gwynn Park looked to pull away from Potomac during the second half, but Potomac (12-6, 10-4) would not go away quietly. After falling behind by 12- and 13-point deficits in the second half, the Wolverines would battle back each time, including going on a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter. After seeing his team suffer its only league loss to the Wolverines earlier in the year, Glick knew that they would be a tough out.
“They’ve given us the hardest time of anybody in our league,” Glick said. They’ve done a tremendous job with turning the program around in one year and I’m just happy that they’re in 3A.”
However, Potomac could not overcome a poor performance from the free-throw line. Shooting 62 percent from the line this year, the Wolverines only made five of 14 attempts from the charity stripe, including just one-for-eight in the second half. With the Wolverines down by five, Dondre Brandon was fouled behind the three-point arc, and he only made one of the three foul shots.
“When you make a run on the road trying to come back in the game, sometimes you lose a little focus, and that’s when you miss foul shots,” Johnson said.
With the win, Gwynn Park maintains control of its destiny for a first-round bye in the 2A South playoff tournament and stays on top of the league standings, tied with Largo (15-3, 13-1).
“This helps us because we want to get that bye in the playoffs, but at the same time we just need to get better every day,” Boyd said. “It’s tough because you can be in any situation and still lose in the playoffs.”