Trying to avoid a third loss to St. Augustine in the first few months of the season, McDonogh 35 leaned on its veterans early and ended with their freshman “closer.”
Roneagles freshman guard Joseph Foucha drove the length of the court and finished a layup as time expired, which sent the entire student section for McDonogh 35 rushing onto the floor, to complete a 48-47 victory over St. Aug (14-4) at McDonogh 35 on Tuesday night. It was the freshman’s second game-winner of the season.
“I knew it was going to be a hard one,” said Foucha, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals. “I pushed the ball up the court, focused on my layup and I just made it.”
Dejon Jarreau, who led the Roneagles (12-8) with 24 points and seven rebounds, said the difference in Foucha’s two game- winners showed the growth in his game throughout his first season.
“The first (game-winner) against Country Day, I dribbled in and kicked it out to him for the 3-pointer,” Jarreau said. “This time he grabbed the rebound and took it the whole way and finished at the rim.
“That dude is going to be good. He’s going to run this team one day.”
After Caleb Daniels nailed back-to-back midrange jumpers to give the Purple Knights a 47-44 lead, McDonogh 35 had three consecutive open 3-point opportunities late in the game, but missed them all. After scrambling to rebound a Foucha missed 3-pointer, Jarreau grabbed the ball, backed up behind the 3-point line and hit a fadeaway 3-pointer to the score at 47 with 17 seconds left.
St. Aug guard Devante Jones was fouled on the next possession with four seconds left and missed the second of his two free throws, which set the stage for Foucha to grab the rebound and make the game-winning shot.
“He’s a finisher, he’s a gamer, he’s all those things to describe someone that’s ready for that moment,” McDonogh 35 coach Kevin Sanders said, referring to Foucha. “Whenever we play St. Aug, it’s always really competitive, because the distance between the two schools, it’s always a great rivalry.”
After falling behind 30-25 to start the second half, the Purple Knights leaned on leading scorers, Charles Brown and Caleb Daniels, to bring them back and the two forwards delivered. They combined for eight points as St. Aug went on a 10-2 run to claim a 35-32 lead with four minutes left in the third.
But 35 responded, ending the frame on a 7-0 run to take a 39-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Brown led the Purple Knights with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Daniels added 14 points and seven rebounds.
“I think we’re starting to realize that basketball is a game of runs,” Sanders said. “It’s a learning experience win or lose, so I’m glad.”
With 6-foot-8 center Bryson Gresham getting his second foul late in the first quarter, Jarreau took the lead for the Roneagles in the second quarter. He scored eight of his team’s 13 points in the period as the Purple Knights began to make their push.
After Jarreau opened the period with a 3-pointer to extend McDonogh 35’s lead to 18-11, St. Aug responded with an 8-2 run that ended with a Brown putback that cut the deficit to 20-19.
Though the Purple Knights stayed close, they never claimed the lead, and the Roneagles took a 28-25 lead into halftime.