Central Boys Basketball Program Continues to Thrive
Central's boys basketball team in Prince George's County is one to keep an eye on. The Falcons are flying high this season with a 6-0 mark, having already beaten Tall Oaks, Surrattsville and Fairmont Heights.
It's a continuation from last season when Central finished 15-6 and picked up a win in the MPSSAA state playoffs against Crossland. The double digit win totalwas a far cry from the 2014-15 season when Central struggled and managed just four wins.
For head coach Lawrence Pugh, a big reason for the program's improvement was the effort put in by the players.
"We do not measure ourselves by wins and losses, we measure ourselves by individual and team improvements," Pugh said. "They met our expectations before the season began. The five core players from last year's team attended every offseason workout session. All five players scoring increased over the season. We met and exceeded our goals last year."
With the team exceeding expectations last season, the group has managed to take it a step further so far this season, which is to be expected. Central has an older team this season, with seven Falcons having been in the program for at least three years, as well as having a pair of sophomores who are playing their second campaign with the varsity.
In terms of strengths, Central's flexibility has allowed the team to excel this season. Pugh says the Falcons are capable of playing both a fast paced transition game, as well as in a half court setup.
"Our style is being very scrappy and aggressive. We prepare for both situations based on how the game is flowing," Pugh said. "We try to be uptempo offensively but slow the opposing team down defensively by running full court and half court presses."
The group's ability to adapt to its opponents have allowed many of the team's standout players from last season to continue to thrive on the court.
Senior point guard Tim Jones, who is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.6 points and six assists per game, has enjoyed a fast start to this campaign. The team's main perimeter threats, Trent Dixon (18 points, 3 assists last season) and Bladensburg transfer Deonte Cooke (10 points last season) have also started the year strongly.
Javani Brown, who averaged 14 points last season, has done well, as has Angelo Isaacs, who is a combo forward/guard that leads the Falcons in the middle. The group is rounded out by 6-foot-7 sophomore Devontae Young, a rebounder and shot blocker whose development will be critical to Central's season.
It's a season the Falcons believe could be a special one for their program. The team has been winning by wide margins, with all but one of its games being decided by double digits. The one close game, a 75-74 decision against Potomac, is the one Pugh is most proud of though.
"Potomac has reloaded with some key transfers and they are well-coached. It was very early in the season to play a team of that caliber and come out with with the victory was a marquee win early in the season," Pugh said. "Coach Johnson is an incredible coach and for the past three to four years every time we meet it's always decided by a last second shot."
The hope for Central is that win will be the first of many big ones. The Falcons have big games coming up on its schedule including Douglass-PG, New Town and Woodlawn, all programs with big pedigree. For Pugh and the Falcons, they want to show they belong with the many historic basketball programs in Maryland.
"We played in the DeMatha Summer League this past summer, and we believe playing teams such as DeMatha, O'Connell, Wise, Bowie, Maret, St. Johns and WT Woodson will help us against those upcoming teams," Pugh said. "We truly believe that we are on the same level as those teams despite not having the name or establishment."
|January 5th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|