Hyattsville ~ Jeremy Roach was all smiles postgame after dropping a career-high 32 points (4 3-pointers). The guard for PVI had an explosive third quarter performance when he recorded 17 points, including two of the aforementioned 3-pointers.
"In the first half I knew (the DeMatha guards) were going under screens," Roach said. "I wasn't really taking advantage of it, and when we came out of halftime I knew I had to. I just got heated up and I was killing it after that."
In the 93-78 PVI victory, Roach was flanked by a 20-point effort from fellow guard Anthony Harris, as well 13 points from Trevor Keels. The DeMatha Stags were led by Earl Timberlake and his 30 points, while Justin Moore pumped in 23 points of his own. The Panther defense was able to create a lot of havoc with their pressure defense, dictating the tempo for the night and never giving much space to any DeMatha players. The physicality of the contest was met in spurts, but PVI brought it to them and let DeMatha feel their presence.
After a first half that saw PVI take advantage of sloppy play in the second quarter to take control of the game 40-29, the Stags came out on fire in the second half with an early 8-2 run that cut the lead to 42-39 after a Justin Moore 3-pointer. The Panthers would reel off five quick points but DeMatha would answer again cutting the lead to as close as it would be for the rest of the night at 47-45 after Jahmir Young hit a pair of free throws.
It momentarily looked as though the Stags were going to make it a game after looking so stagnant in the first half. The recipe was there as Earl Timberlake was cooking all over the court with his evolving playmaking skills. Anthony Harris would also be sidelined with a head injury after he was blindsided with a screen in the early going. After the injury timeout, Brandon Slater would have a quick war of words with Earl Timberlake before the play clock resumed. The heated conversation seemed to spark PVI, as they showed would tremendous poise afterward, especially when Roach would then subsequently start off his onslaught after a trip to the free throw.
"I thought (Slaters) leadership, getting these guys prepared and ready to play today was instrumental," Farello said. "He didn't have the biggest offensive output but man --that kid just impacts the game in so many different ways."
From there the sophomore guard would easily elevate for three of his 3-pointers when he realized the DeMatha guards were going underneath on ball screens. The last of his 3-pointers would come on an out-of-bounds play when head coach Glen Farello recognized no one was attached to Roach and alerted his inbounder of the defensive lapse, from there Roach caught the ball, took a step back into 3-point range with a hard dribble, and released his picturesque jumper. When his shot hit twine, Roach made a 3 symbol with his hand and retreated back to defense. The impressive shot-making gave the Panthers a 68-52 lead after Trevor Keels hit a 3-pointer to end the 3rd frame.
"I just shoot good here," Roach said. "For some reason every time we play here I shoot good."
In the fourth and final frame of the evening, the Panthers would ramp up their defense even more. The pressure would lead to Trevor Keels throwing down an angry 2-handed dunk and a yell of triumph as the Stags couldn't find an answer to beat this defense. Brandon Slater would later add more salt to the wound when he slammed home a one-handed dunk in transition just a few possesions later.
After a 10-day stretch that saw them beat not only Gonzaga, but also DeMatha too on the Stags homecourt, PVI made it clear the WCAC runs through them this season.
"It builds confidence," Farello said. "We're in for the long haul, we understand that. We're just trying to get better every day. It's also good to know that we can compete with anybody."