Entering Tuesday’s boys basketball game, Suitland High School’s Chris Morgan had been in a slump for weeks and was trying to end it. The aggression and confidence hadn’t been there, and neither were the points.
After Gerard Gray got into foul trouble early, something clicked for the Suitland senior. Morgan increased his defensive tenacity and it translated to the offensive end, where he used hard cuts to drive to the basket on his way to a 19-point performance and a 52-46 victory at Bowie.
“I knew we needed to win and I’ve been on a four-game slump. I just played hard and tried to get the win the best way I can,” said Morgan, who averaged 6.25 points during those four games. “We just needed this win tonight.”
After University of Maryland recruit Roddy Peters’ season ended because of surgery to fix a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Morgan scored 22 points the very next game, setting the tone for the Rams’ play without their star.
Since then, he had reached 10 points only twice.
“We’ve been waiting for this,” Suitland coach George McClure said. “We felt like he was due for a big game. We’re a little surprised but very happy. ... Tonight I thought he rebounded really well when Gerard went out.”
It was all Gray in the early going. He scored Suitland’s first nine points, but didn’t play in the second quarter after a foul-heavy first quarter. Morgan didn’t score in the first quarter but scored eight points in the second.
Bowie, which led 16-12 after the first quarter, fell apart in the second.
The Bulldogs didn’t make their first field goal of the frame until 3 minutes, 42 seconds had passed. It was their only field goal of the quarter with their other two points coming from the free throw line, both from Dejuan Smith, who had four attempts.
Jared Gray, Bowie’s point guard and third-leading scoring, missed the game with a strained hip.
“We’ve lost three of our last four games. We’ve been competitive in all of them but our execution — we have these periods where we don’t execute offensively and we don’t execute defensively,” Bowie coach Cedrick Holbrook said. “It’s literally both. It’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen. Normally if you see a team break down, it’s on one side or the other. ... What we do is we have these moments where we just shut down completely and we can’t really put our finger on what the problem is.”
After Bowie brought the game within a point in the third quarter, Morgan rallied the Rams with a seven-point spree to give his team more breathing room.
With four minutes left and holding a 10-point lead, Suitland went to its four-corners offense, which failed in its last game against Bowie. The Bulldogs came back to force overtime in that game and won, 78-76.
This time, with Savon Walker running the point, Suitland was able to run the clock out successfully, allowing three field goals in the final four minutes, the last on a dunk at the buzzer by Michael Giles.
“I thought it was going to be a dog fight and it was,” McClure said. “We preached we have to finish this game. It’s not enough to just rest on our laurels. I thought the kids took care of the ball enough. I wish they did a little better, but they took care of it enough to win.”
Suitland 52, Bowie 46
Suitland 12 14 14 12 — 52
Bowie 16 4 15 11 — 46
Suitland (11-8, 9-6): Chris Morgan 19, Gerard Gray 9, Savon Walker 8, Darryl Smith 7, Marquette Brown 7, Raymond Brown 2
Bowie (11-7, 8-7): Cory Washington 11, Michael Giles 11, Jalen Robinson 9, Develle Phillips 7, Kade Monroe 6, Dejuan Smith 2