The Stoneman Douglas Eagles put their undefeated district record on the line Wednesday night against the Coral Glades Jaguars. Traveling to Coral Springs, the Eagles narrowly avoided the Jaguars upset bid with a narrow 61-57 victory to sweep the season series.
In the first quarter, the Eagles offense was kept contained and posted a pedestrian 13 points in the quarter, led by Justin Duroseau, who hit two three-pointers. Star forward Gordon Jupiter was quiet in the first quarter, but did nail a three-pointer of his own. Unlike the Eagles’ offensive approach, the Jaguars pounded the ball inside, despite the presence of 6’7” C Zack Knecht in the paint. The backcourt of Jake Hershkowitz and Julian Levy pushed the ball in the first and were able to pick up fast break points that have been hard to come by lately. Nick Oxendine led the way for the Jaguars with four points in the quarter, and was able to limit Knecht to just two points at the free throw line. Coral Glades led the Eagles 14-13 after one quarter, well below either team’s first quarter average.
“In the last week or so, we’ve come off to a real slow start. It just comes down to the guys’ lack of focus before the game, it’s just the little things. It happens, but it’s nice knowing that my guys come back, they compete, they play hard. I don’t like having to come back, but it’s nice knowing that my guys are resilient,” Stoneman Douglas head coach Orlando McCorvey said.
Despite the Jaguars extending their lead to seven points in the second quarter, the game seemed closer than ever come halftime. Much of the ball handling responsibilities fell on guards Jake Hershkowitz and Jon Lefleur in the second quarter with Julian Levy missing time with a head injury. Levy left the game early in the second quarter, but was able to return for the second half. This matchup was much more than a regular game for Levy, who transferred to Stoneman Douglas last year, but returned to Coral Glades for his senior year. This was a statement game for the captain, and despite the outcome, he certainly made a statement. The Coral Glades front court of Oxendine and Jerel Carter had their way in the second quarter, continuing their onslaught in the paint. Jupiter got the Eagles offense going in the second and Duroseau complemented him in the backcourt, putting in his third three of the contest. At halftime, the Jaguars led 30-23 with their captain watching from the sideline.
Jake Hershkowitz got things going for the Jaguars early in the third, starting the second half off with back to back fast break layups. Apart from those quick baskets, Coral Glades took a backseat to Stoneman Douglas in the third quarter, allowing them to claw their way back into the game. Jupiter had yet another huge quarter for the Eagles, shouldering the offensive load. Apart from Jupiter and Duroseau, who drained his fourth three-pointer of the contest in the quarter, Wilvens Fleurizard provided a spark. Fleurizard scored seven relief points in the quarter, including three free throws. Free throws were key for the Eagles, who outshot the Jaguars 15-4 at the line.
“There’s some games where we struggle, and there’s some games where we hit,” McCorvey said. “We practice them all the time, we know in close ball games [that] we have to make our free throws.”
David Fungchung scored the last four points of the third for the Jaguars, including a game-tying buzzer beater at the end of the quarter. Heading into the fourth, the game was tied up at 43, and every single spectator was on the edge of their seat.
The fourth quarter began similarly to the third, with the Jaguars getting out to an early run. Fungchung picked up where he left off in the third, and rattled off back to back buckets including an emphatic fast break dunk. After exchanging baskets for a few minutes the Jaguars jumped out to a seven-point lead that was cut to one, following crucial consecutive three pointers for Stoneman Douglas from Jason Pemberton. The Eagles took a four-point lead riding this momentum and Jake Hershkowitz cut that deficit to one with one stroke, splashing a three-pointer. From there on out it was just free throws for the Eagles, who took care of business at the line. The Jaguars were unable to respond on offense and the Eagles hung on to complete the comeback effort, 61-57.
With the victory, the Eagles remain in first place in the district at 15-3, and 7-0 against district opponents. Coral Glades however, falls to 4-11 on the year, and remains winless against district opponents. The Jaguars go on the road Monday to face off against the Monarch Knights who defeated them on their home floor earlier in the year. Stoneman Douglas travels to Coral Springs to face the Colts this Friday, before playing host to them on Monday, as two top tier teams matchup.