Damascus boys basketball escapes past Richard Montgomery to remain unbeaten

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ROCKVILLE – The Damascus High School boys basketball team has been the best squad in Montgomery County this season, winning all 18 of its games.

The Swarmin’ Hornets faced Richard Montgomery on Tuesday night. While the game was a competitive affair, Damascus did just enough for the 78-69 victory over the Rockets to improve to 19-0 on the season.

“It’s always nice to win,” said Hornets head coach Brian Humphrey. “We had the 19 points there. But we’ve got to figure out something defensively.”

Feb. 7, 2023: Damascus holds on for a 78-69 win over Richard Montgomery behind Peter Mangan’s 25-points. Mike Clark/The Sports Pulse

While half of this season’s contests have been blowouts for Damascus, the game against Richard Montgomery remained close throughout, with the Swarmin’ Hornets needing all of Peter Mangan’s team-high 24 points.

“It’s always good to have a point guard who is good at making plays,” said Humphrey. “I thought Pete did a good job of controlling the game.”

“We’ve got to play better defensively,” said Mangan. “First and fourth quarter, we let up, and they almost came back.”

Michael Baskerville and Conor Shiflett had 15 points each, while Joey Lutz finished with 14 points.

“We definitely have a lot more to do,” said Baskerville. “No disrespect to RM, they’re a very good team, but that game shouldn’t have been that close.”

Meanwhile, Richard Montgomery’s leading scorers were Khalil Wilson and Anthony Davenport, with 14 points each, while Dante Mayo Jr. scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.

The Rockets quickly jumped to a 10-4 lead behind strong shooting and defense, as the team made six buckets from downtown in the opening quarter.

“We know that we’re capable of playing at that level,” said Richard Montgomery head coach David Breslaw. “A game like that just reminds us of how good we can be.”

Nevertheless, the Hornets regained their form midway through the first quarter to go up by one point by the end of the period.

Feb. 7, 2023: Damascus holds on for a 78-69 win over Richard Montgomery behind Peter Mangan’s 25-points. (Mike Clark/The Sports Pulse)

“Coach gave us that momentum that we needed,” said Baskerville. “It started with defense. Defense turns to offense.”

The second quarter is when the momentum completely swung Damascus’ way, as they went on to score 15 unanswered points and held Richard Montgomery scoreless for nearly five minutes.

“I’ve been with this group for two straight years,” said Humphrey. “When they really lock in, they can play for sure. A 15-0 run is always nice.”

Mangan and Shiflet stepped up in the first half with 12 and nine points, respectively, as the Hornets led 41-29 at halftime.

Damascus continued its dominance in the third quarter, with Mangan scoring eight more points to add to his run.

However, the fourth is when the Rockets slowly attempted a comeback, as Mayo nailed a couple of 3-pointers to help the team.

“Their fans played a great part too,” said Baskerville. “The fans gave them that momentum after they scored like that. That type of competition felt great to play against again.”

Richard Montgomery cut the deficit to five with under a minute to go, but the Hornets did just enough on defense and offense to hang on for the victory.

“It’s good to have challenges late in the season before going into the playoffs,” said Mangan. “We need to work on our on-ball defense.”

Photos by Mike Clark/The Sports Pulse

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