With less than three minutes left in a close game, Largo junior point guard Derrick Colter took the in-bound pass and dribbled up court. He weaved around one defender before dodging another. He then casually pranced across midcourt before lobbing the ball to senior forward Brandon Bailey, who finished it off with authority. The high-flying but risky alley-op play put the No. 17 Largo Lions up by six points, giving them a sizeable lead to help put away the No. 16 Surrattsville Hornets, 65-55, on Feb. 3 in Largo, Md.

Ironically, Colter and Bailey helped close the game almost the same way they started it, with the point guard lobbing it up and his 6-foot, 6-inch forward slamming it home. Typically, teams elect for the “safe play” late in games but not the Largo Lions. Led by Colter, who has a flair for the dramatic, Largo’s herky-jerky style has them neck-and-neck with Surrattsville and Friendly High School atop the Prince George’s County 3A standings.

Fast-breaking Largo likes to get up court in a hurry. It’s a risky style but when it’s working like it was against Surrattsville, another team ranked in The Washington Post top 20 local teams, it’s a crowd-pleasing performance.

“That’s our style,” admitted Largo coach Lewis Howard. “We’re going to play that style of basketball all day long and if it’s there we’re going to take it. We want to showcase our kids’ talent and allow them to do the things they can do. But when it comes down to possession basketball we want to play like that and tonight we showed we can do that.”

The Surrattsville Hornets (14-3) received a big game from senior point guard, Chaz White, who scored 18 points and routinely knifed through the teeth of the Largo’s defense for layups early in the first half. After Largo (12-5) adjusted defensively, Surrattsville was held to just nine points in the final quarter as Largo racked up18 fourth quarter points to seal it.

A large crowd made the 30-minute trek from Surrattsville, Md. to fill Largo’s gymnasium, nearly outnumbering the home audience. The visiting team unmercifully booed the game’s referees after a series of questionable calls late in the game drew the ire of both the team’s fans and its head coach, Roderick Moore.

“It’s a game,” Howard said. “The refs didn’t put the ball in the hole, we did. Calls went both ways. You can’t blame it on the refs, you got to play.”

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO