Takoma Squanders Golden Opportunity to upset Riverdale Baptist; Riverdale Escapes
On Thursday night Takoma Academy had no Desmond Stanback — No Problem. Jalen Williams would play the best game of his career and carry Takoma. Stanback who was suspended for the game, was in street clothes and Riverdale Baptist and Takoma played a down-to-the-wire over-time nail biter.
Riverdale Baptist would walk away with a 78-76 over-time victory and they won in the luckiest of fashions. With the score tied at 68 and 7.5 seconds left Riverdale Baptist’s Devon Barnett stepped up to the line and missed his loan free throw after an and-one. Takoma’s Adrian Dixon grabbed the rebound and threw a long out let pass to Takoma center, 6’8” Tai’Malik Marshall who had an uncontested lay-up to win the game and upset Riverdale Baptist. Marshall didn’t have a defender within 20 feet of him and the clock had ticked down to about two seconds when he took his last dribble and went to plant before dropping in the uncontested game winner. Somehow Marshall tripped; it was unclear if the big man’s uncertainty whether to dunk it or lay it in caused the miscue or if he just tripped over his own feet but he lost control of the ball and it went sailing up towards the basket, the buzzer sounded, and the two teams went to over-time. It was the type of shot that Marshall (or any player) converts 999 times out of a thousand.
In over-time Riverdale Baptist got out to a five point lead half way through the four minute session. But Takoma would make a run. Jalen Williams would hit a jumper from the top of they key and then former Montrose Christian Mustang Donnel Diggs would convert on a contested drive to the basket with 59 seconds remaining. Riverdale would draw a quick foul and Marquis Powell would split a pair to tie the game at 74 with 31 seconds remaining. Instead of holding for a last shot Tai’Malik Marshall would throw up a contested air ball from 14 feet and Takoma players swarmed the rebounder and gave a foul — BUT THE GAME WAS TIED. What a mental lapse. Riverdale’s Milan Durant would convert on both free throws and Riverdale trailed by two with 17 seconds to go in over-time. After calling a time-out Riverdale stole the Takoma inbounds pass and just held the ball for over 10 seconds. Why Takoma didnt take a quick foul we will never know. Inexplicably Takoma gave a foul in a tie game with 17 seconds left, and then didn’t give a foul down two with 15 seconds left. Finally Takoma committed a foul and Olajuwon Lewis connected on both free throws with 5.2 seconds on the clock. It was all but over. Takoma managed to squander multiple chances when it seemed like the game was theirs to win on multiple occasions.
It was truly a great game from start to finish. It was a high octane, fast paced game and the lead was going back and forth for the entire game. Takoma would get out to six and eight point leads but Riverdale would fight back. The game was really up for grabs. Jalen Williams was tremendous. The junior guard scored a season high 25 points including three 3-pointers and was Takoma’s star offensively. Riverdale’s Olajuwon Lewis had a season high 20 and led an offensive attack that saw four Riverdale players score in double figures. Riverdale’s Brandon Peel was a beast on the defensive end. In addition to his 14 points he finished the game with seven blocked shots.
Takoma was a real pleasure to watch. In fact both team’s were. Riverdale Baptist has a rich basketball tradition and the type of play we saw out of them was expected. Takoma has made serious strides. It wasn’t long ago that Takoma was in the bottom echelon of Private School’s but they have acquired some serious talent. Their leading scorer was suspended Thursday, yet they still played at a level that should have garnered a victory. Takoma has two legit bigs; both underclassmen, some real leaders in the backcourt, and some guys who can score the ball. It is obvious that they need a little help in terms of late-game situations, some basketball smarts if you will. If they had the poise, and the experience that Riverdale has, they would have won the game. But they had a handful of serious mental errors that ended up costing them. Takoma will be heard from again. Riverdale is legit.