By: Bobby Padmore and Felix Barbieri
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Montgomery Blair High School boys varsity basketball team defeated Northwood High School 52-49 Tuesday night at Blair in the Battle of the Boulevard, but it wasn’t an easy win.
Rivalry runs deep between the two neighboring schools, only 1.5 miles apart on University Boulevard, and the tension was thick in the Blair gymnasium from the moment Northwood’s team walked on the court for warm-ups.
Northwood came seeking revenge after their home loss (by just three points) to Blair earlier in the season.
Former Blair team member (and current Northwood player) William Tawamba didn’t see action in the return game due to disciplinary issues; he spent the the game supporting his new team from the bench.
“Going into the game, I felt confident that we could win it, especially because Northwood is a squad of guys we know,” said James McGee, one of the Blair captains. “There’s no mystery about them. We know the people in that team well, and have been playing against them for years.”
Blair and Northwood students flooded their respective sections of the bleachers to support their own teams, joined by well-known local cinematographer Remi Ali (otherwise known as 2k-Forbes), who came to support and film Blair players whom he previously coached, making the game that much more intense.
The game started like any other, with Northwood winning the tip, but the home crowd was energized as sophomore guard Roman Cannuscio sank a fast break three, scoring the first points of the game for Blair.
At the half, Blair led the Gladiators 22-15, with dominate plays from senior forward Ethan Ellis and sophomore guard Michael Ayala Jr., who had 5 points respectively.
That lead was 44-32 going into the fourth quarter, but Northwood battled back to make it a dog fight by going on a 6-0 run.
With four seconds left on the clock and the score tied at 49-49, Blair secured the ball and called a timeout. While the gym roared on both sides, sophomore guard Roman Cannuscio ran off a double screen, got the inbound pass at the top of the key, took two dribbles to his left and hit a ridiculous three point floater to secure the win as time expired.
“We were feeling kinda down after losing the cushion lead we had, but Roman just gave us that extra spark when it looked like we were going to lose our composure,” said Blair captain James McGee. “The buzzer beater was absolutely unreal.”
Cannuscio led the way in scoring for the Blazers, finishing with 13 points and 4 assists. Sophomore guard Michael Ayala Jr. posted 12 points with 2 assists, and senior forward Ethan Ellis scored 9 points, with 4 assists and 9 rebounds.
This was Northwood and Blair’s second meeting of the season, with Blair taking the first game 65-62 at Northwood.