Surrattsville High School guards Chaz White and William Johnson are not strangers. The two seniors have been playing side by side in the backcourt for quite some time, and their on-court chemistry is evident. So, on a night where Johnson fouled out early, it was his partner White who picked up the slack to help the Surrattsville Hornets fend off the Largo Lions 81-71 in Clinton, Md. on Feb. 17.

Operating in front of their home crowd for the last time in the regular season, Surrattsville (18-4) marked senior night with a salute to 10 seniors prior to the start of the game. After the brief ceremony, the team took the hardwood and began taking it to Largo. While Largo (13-9) started the game hot, knocking down four of their first five three pointers, Surrattsville was busy driving to the rim. Behind White (17 points) and Johnson (14 points), Surrattsville capitalized on timely steals and streaking fast breaks. The electric pace allowed Surrattsville to take a seven-point lead into halftime and gave an already energetic crowd even more reason to cheer.

As Surrattsville’s gymnasium heated up, friction between the two schools also rose, both on and off the court. Frequent trash talk and dirty looks were passed between players throughout the night and a minor shouting match erupted in the crowd late in the second half between groups of opposing students. But despite the forgettable antics, Surrattsville swelled their lead to as much as 13 points in the middle of the third quarter, forcing Largo to adjust.

With his team quickly succumbing to the pressure of Surrattsville’s fast-paced attack, Largo coach Lewis Howard scrapped his previous plans and decided to unleash star junior guard Derrick Colter. The point guard took over in the second half, relentlessly knifing into Surrattsville’s defense for 34 points. Colter made 18 of 20 free throw attempts as his quickness and speed forced Surrattsville to repeatedly foul him over the course of the final two quarters.

“Colter’s a player that you’ll never completely stop him, you just hope to limit him,” Surrattsville coach Roderick Moore said. “You hope that he doesn’t get on those big runs where he can light you up for 35 or 40 points. I don’t know how much he had but I know he didn’t have 40. I wish he was going off to college this year so we don’t have to play him again next year.”

While mesmerizing at times, Colter’s big scoring run began to die down late in the fourth quarter as fatigue set in. Largo drew as close as five points in the final quarter but Surrattsville responded with key baskets and important free throws to avenge a 65-55 loss to Largo earlier in February.

“Largo is always a very competitive team,” Moore said. “Just in all of our sports whenever Largo and Surrattsville get together, it’s always a battle.”
 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO