Posted On: 02/19/17 10:21 AM
The line burst past the door, winded through the parking lot and backed up the street several hundred feet away from the school.
Hundreds of folks were turned away from the Thunderdome at Manual on Saturday. There were only so many seats available, after all.
The ones who made it in — University of Denver coach Rodney Billups among them — had come to see a city championship game between Denver East and George Washington. What they got was classic.
In a game that nobody who saw it will soon forget, George Washington outlasted East 99-96 in an overtime thriller that produced everything you could possibly want in a high school basketball game.
There were big runs. There were comebacks. There were highlight-reel dunks. There were standout individual performances. There was an atmosphere unlike any produced in Colorado — or many other places for that matter. There were heart and guts. Joy and agony.
The logical hope for any fan leaving the jam-packed Thunderdome on Saturday was this: I hope these teams find some way to match up again in the playoffs.
Until that time may come, relive the game with a fresh Prep Hoops 10 Best:
MVP: Daylen Kountz, Denver East
This is our first time giving the MVP to a member of a losing team, but there is no doubt Kountz earned the honor. The 6-4 junior wing, our No. 1 player in the 2018 class, scored a career-high 42 points, unstoppable for most of the afternoon. What’s more? Kountz authored that tour de force performance against his former team. Kountz played his first two seasons at G-Dub before transferring to East for his senior season. To turn the obvious emotion that would come for any teenager with such a big game was a truly special feat from a special player. Kountz scored in every way possible. He hit 3-pointers. He relentlessly attacked the basket. He dunked in transition. He tipped in rebounds. Kountz’s desperation 3-pointer to tie the game at the end of overtime missed the mark, but his display earned the highest marks in nearly every way.
Best Offensive Player: Jervay Green, George Washington
First, there was the dunk. With the game tied at 26-all midway through the second quarter, Green caught the ball in the open floor and saw the opposing guard in front of him. That didn’t deter the 6-4 senior. Instead he elevated — in fact, he seemed to rise with no end — and dropped a thunderous, one-handed dunk that had everyone in the packed Thunderdome on their feet. It was one of the best live dunks you’ll see, courtesy of a talented and athletic player who this week signed to begin his college career at Western Nebraska Community College. Green finished with 28 points on a highly effective 9-of-15 shooting. He added two more big dunks and knocked down 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range. He also had six assists and six rebounds, making the G-Dub offense tick.
Defensive Player of the Game: Jon’il Fugett, George Washington
The state’s top perimeter defender was at it again, collecting five steals and generally wreaking havoc on the Denver East backcourt. Fugett’s constant harassment paid big dividends in the second half. His is a motor that never stops, so as the game wore on his pressure formed the Angels into mistakes that the Patriots capitalized on in transition. Fugett, the 5-11 junior, also had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Play of the Game: Mo Diallo, George Washington
With 13 seconds left in regulation and inbounding from underneath its own basket, G-Dub trailed East 82-80. Shawn’Trell White delivered the inbounds pass to senior guard Calvin Fugett, who was cutting from the top of the key to the basket. As soon as Fugett caught the ball he was headed downhill, and three East defenders collapsed on him. He alertly spotted junior forward Mohammad Diallo standing on the baseline. Diallo caught the ball and, with 7-footer Assane Diouf charging at him, calmly nailed the jumper that forced the game into overtime. In the extra session, Diallo also scored five straight points that helped turn an 87-84 deficit into an 89-87 lead. The Patriots prevailed from there.
Most Clutch: Calvin Fugett, George Washington
The Patriots struggled at the line all day. But when it mattered most, Fugett stepped to the line and nailed four consecutive free throws in the final minute to help the Patriots preserve the victory. Fugett finished with 11 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds.
Best Underclassman: Kwane Marble, 6-3 guard, Denver East
This may have been the best high school game yet for Marble, he was aggressive and attacking throughout the game. He put together a monster double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, relentlessly being around the ball. That aggressiveness kept earning Marble trips to the free-throw line, where he knocked down 10-of-11 attempts. Marble picked up his fifth foul in overtime, a big loss to the Angels when they needed his scoring. Watch out for the young sophomore in the playoffs.
Best Under-The-Radar Performance: Tray Pierce, George Washington
The 6-8 junior forward continues to improve, and he played strong underneath for the Patriots on Saturday. He quietly flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a whopping six blocks. He altered some shots he didn’t block, too, allowing G-Dub’s perimeter players to steer their men into the center and have to deal with Pierce. His attention is sure to grow in a big way on the circuit this spring.
Toughest Break: Jamison Washington, Denver East
The 6-2 junior guard played well for East, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter to help the Angels take a 41-36 halftime lead. But he suffered a painful ankle injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. East certainly missed his ball-handling and scoring punch late in the game, when the Angels were also without guards Kwane Marble and Joe Abiakam after they fouled out. We wish Jamison a speedy recovery.
The Story Going Forward For Denver East: Cohesion coming.
Building chemistry takes time. The Angels had to weave in several new pieces at the midway point in their season, but they really appear to be gelling now. When they play together like they did Saturday, this team will have the opportunity to compete with anyone in the postseason, which begins this week.
The Story Going Forward For George Washington: Goals in sight.
A third straight undefeated run through the Denver Public League was just part of the mission for this experienced and explosive Patriots. They have their eyes on a 5A state championship. The quest begins now, and G-Dub appears ready.
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