Thrilling Playoff Run For Bruins Comes To An End In State-Final Loss

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Broadneck’s amazing postseason run has come to an end.

The Bruins boys basketball team came up one win shy of the ultimate on Saturday night, falling to an exceptionally powerful Eleanor Roosevelt High School team in the 4A state championship game at the Xfinity Center on the University of Maryland campus, 77-48.

The Raiders (24-3) made a statement as one of the best high school basketball teams in Maryland in the past five to 10 years by capping their season with an overwhelming victory. Roosevelt received 25 points and 14 rebounds from William & Mary commit Cameron Brown, 13 points from Jaamir Butler, 10 assists from Kyle Rose, 10 points from Coppin State commit Isaiah Gross and 12 points by Jahari Simon in deploying their fast, athletic, deep unit to run away with a convincing win.

Broadneck saw a team-high 22 points from senior Jamar Young and got contributions from throughout the lineup, showing no fear in competing and hanging with the Raiders through the first 10 minutes of play before ultimately succumbing to Roosevelt’s outsized talent.

Simply put, I couldn’t be any more proud of a group of guys,” said Broadneck coach John Williams. “I was thrilled about the season we put together. It’s slightly disappointing that we came out and played in the fashion we did, but we give a lot of credit to Roosevelt. They’re quite a team.”

The final score shows that a Broadneck victory was always going to be a tall order, though there is a world in which the Bruins’ best game, coupled with a Roosevelt off-night, would produce a momentous upset for the Bruins.

Broadneck (22-6) started the game like a team looking to fulfill that dream. Roosevelt scored off the opening tip, but Broadneck senior Che Colbert came down the floor and hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Broadneck a 3-2 lead.

From there, the Bruins played free, building an improbable lead. Logan Vican flew in for an offensive rebound and stick-back, and Young hit an elbow jumper. Broadneck led 7-2.

Then, the Bruins let it fly. Young hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. Senior Nick Gatton banged another 3. Mike Cantrell launched a 3 from the wing—swish. David Stewart came off the bench and hit a 3. A discombobulated Roosevelt side called timeout as Broadneck’s students and fans shook the stands with vibrant cheering and a sense that the Bruins might just pull off a wild win. Broadneck led 21-18 after one quarter.

Even when Brown produced the night’s highlight—an oh my­ breakaway slam dunk plus a foul that sent the Roosevelt fans into a frenzy of delight—Broadneck responded. Andrew Rose hit yet another 3-pointer, and the game was tied at 26-26 early in the second quarter.

“I think we were confident with how we handled their pressure, it was just whether we could sustain it,” said Williams.

But Broadneck’s game plan of slowing Roosevelt’s pace was already being tested. The Raiders went on a run of three field goals to take a 33-27 lead, forcing a Bruin timeout. The onslaught had begun, and the Raiders came on like a rising tide. Butler hit a pair of 3’s for Roosevelt, and the Bruins’ Cantrell and Vican were forced out of much of the second quarter with two personal fouls each. Stewart, Rose, Brendan Davis and Josh Ehrlich filled the void as best they could, but by halftime, the Raiders led 45-29.

The Bruins did not recover. Roosevelt stretched its lead in the second half, throwing menacing double teams at Broadneck, getting out into the open court and earning a rightful anointing as state champs by night’s end.

“They made a couple runs there in the second quarter, and we sputtered offensively. That was really the difference in the game,” said Williams. “We rally had trouble getting any traction after that. I think that pace of play really takes a lot out of you as a player. The physicality, the pace of play that they had was a bit of a problem.”

View full-resolution prints and downloads of photos in this gallery. Photos by Colin Murphy

A somber reckoning throughout the fourth quarter gave way to bittersweet celebration as the Broadneck students, teachers, families and fans cheered their Bruins through to the final horn.

And why not? The sight of an entire side of the Xfinity Center blacked out in Bruin fan gear made hearts swell with community pride. The Bruins’ first-ever state-final berth punctuated a season in which Broadneck got better and better throughout, beat Severna Park twice, made it to the county championship, won the region, defeated Richard Montgomery High School in the semifinals, shattered expectations and captivated an entire school and community.

“It’s been a fun ride,” said Williams. “I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. Had you told me we were going to be in the state championship game last year at the end of the season and that these guys were going to lead us, I would have had to pause for a moment. Not that I didn’t believe in them, but those are really lofty goals. And here we are. The last month of the season has been quite a ride. For me as a coach it’s been the best month of my career. And to just see these guys grow from four years ago as students, people and players, it’s awesome. I mean, it’s awesome. We really helped to unite a community. The amount of faces I’ve seen in the past three weeks, I’ve had 150 messages from various people, alumni. This run was as much for the past as it was for the present, and we talked about this to the kids, to the players, that we created a new generation of Broadneck basketball players. There’s little kids running around looking up to Che, looking up to Mike, looking up to Jamar and Nick. This is a group that has a lot of perseverance and determination, and I hope they can look at this and use this as a platform into the future and understand that there are going to be failures, and it’s critical that they bounce back from whatever failure it is. It’s a lesson in life.”

Some teams are inconsolable after a state-final loss, even bitter. But the Bruin players were poised, and they appreciated the magnitude of their achievements.

“I’m grateful,” said Gatton, a senior who finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds in the game. “I’m grateful for standing up here, sitting up here with these guys. Never would I have thought that I would make it to a state championship game in basketball. It’s very overwhelming, it’s surreal, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else but these guys. I thank coach for believing in us and believing in what these guys do and ultimately letting us get here. So, very good season that we had, and I’m very proud of these guys.”

Young said the team, as it excelled throughout the season and ultimately captured the region championship for the first time since 1995, did what no one predicted: made supporters out of its opponents.

“I had a very fun ride with this group of people,” said Young. “I think we were the most underrated team in the county. A lot of people hated on us and thought we were going to be the worst team in the county. They would throw shots at us on social media. We wouldn’t say anything back to them, just come out on the court and play our game. As we got to the playoffs, as they got knocked out, they started to join us and motivate us and want us to win and make it out of the county and win a state championship.”

Cantrell said the entire season, capped by winning the region and making it to the final, are special memories for the Bruins.

“I couldn’t ask for a better season with these guys,” Cantrell said. “Everybody just tuned in and everybody supported each other. I’ve never had a more supportive group ever. Even coach and all the players let me do my thing out there and always supported me. Man, to come to Maryland, it means the world to me, honestly. Just the season we had, I’ll never forget it. It’s just been the best, honestly.”

The 2018-2019 Bruins are Brendan Davis, Che Colbert, Josh Ehrlich, Brendan Kennedy, Jamar Young, Cyrus Jackson, Kyle Waggoner, Nick Gatton, Roberto Mazza, Chris Goshorn, David Stewart, Logan Vican, Mike Cantrell and Andrew Rose. They are coached by John Williams, John Spinnenweber, Zach Vrhovac, Gerald Stansbury, Tom Cole and Bobby Bates. The team managers are Erin O’Connor, Cooper Daras, Matt Brown, Jonathan Meyers, Kyle Reker, Diana Ready and Madison Hebert.

View full-resolution prints and downloads of photos in this gallery. Photos by Colin Murphy

Questions or comments? Email Colin Murphy at colin@severnaparkvoice.com.

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