Frederick’s football season may have ended two months ago. But in Cadets boys basketball coach Emonte Hill’s eyes, Chris Metevia and Torrey Flournoy haven’t lost their football mindset as defenders on the hardwood.
“It’s just the toughness that they bring,” Hill said Wednesday at Frederick. “They want the ball.
“They’re not going to reach, they’re going to go get it. I think that’s just a little bit of that football makeup that they bring to the table.”
So for a Frederick team that shot poorly from the field and the free-throw line for much of the game and may have started to press after watching Thomas Johnson erase a 22-point deficit to take a three-point lead, some of that toughness and fly-to-the-ball mentality rescued a Cadets team that hung on for a 58-52 victory.
“I definitely work hard, and I take pride in playing defense,” Metevia said after recording six steals and pulling down 10 rebounds. “So [with] the steals, me putting in the effort, that’s just’s going to come back at the end of the day.”
Defense became especially important after the Patriots seized control and took a 46-43 lead with 6 minutes, 42 seconds remaining. Frederick (6-4 overall, 3-2 CMC Spires Division) had built its large lead in the first half thanks in large part to its full-court press but then opted not to press TJ for the entire third quarter and the early stages of the final period.
“They were getting some easy [points] on the other end [after breaking the press],” Hill said. “I think we got tired for a stretch, so we kind of backed it off and went back to it.”
When the full-court pressure returned, the Cadets scored the next nine points, with three of their baskets coming off turnovers. Metevia ended the stretch by poking the ball away from the Patriots and then racing in for a fast-break layup.
“The defense, when it’s clicking together, we’re probably one of the best teams in the county,” Metevia said.
Flournoy, who finished with four steals, later drew an important charge on TJ’s Sean Giles underneath the basket when the Cadets were clinging to a two-point lead with 1:47 left. He also hit three 3s and scored 14 points, and Adrian Adlam added 10 points.
Holding on for a victory became especially important for Frederick, which a day earlier took an 11-point lead over North Hagerstown midway through the third quarter but then watched the Hubs roll to an 18-point win. After the loss, Hill preached mental toughness with his players. He saw some of it Wednesday after the Cadets watched their lead slip away against the Patriots (4-8, 2-3).
“We had a great culture on the bench,” Hill said. “Guys were into it, guys were staying behind each other, no heads were down. That’s part of that mental element we talked about.”
On back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, Metevia turned one of his steals into a layup, and another led to a fast-break basket by Jaden Arrington (22 points) that gave the Cadets a 30-8 lead with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half. But Frederick managed just six points the rest of the half and only seven in the third quarter.
“After the first quarter, I told them, if you can cut it to 10, we’ve got a chance,” Patriots coach John Manley said.
TJ started gaining some traction through the interior defense of Binwi Bihai and Nate Owusu, who started taking away drives to the basket by blocking shots. Offensively, Giles and Jeremiah Morris started finishing at the rim while Oscar Contreras sprinkled in some outside shooting, hitting two 3s.
Suddenly, the Patriots rattled off 15 straight points in the second quarter and met the goal Manley set for them, trailing 36-26 at halftime.
In addition to grabbing 14 rebounds, Owusu scored a team-high 17 points points while Bihai pulled down 11 rebounds. Giles tallied 11 points and eight rebounds while Morris had nine points and five steals.
“I was hoping they had it in them, but when you get down that far in a game, credit to my kids for fighting and coming back,” Manley said. “I think our kids just had a lot of heart tonight.”