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The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

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Boys, girls basketball pick up big wins, set sights on playoffs

Sophomore+Tavares+Boogie+Vaughan-Cooper+elevates+over+a+defender+at+a+home+basketball+game.
Ari Fine
Sophomore Tavares “Boogie” Vaughan-Cooper elevates over a defender at a home basketball game.

From the beginning of their seasons, the RM boys and girls basketball teams knew they had the potential and skill to make a deep run into the playoffs, and so far this season, both teams are on their way towards earning high playoff seeds. Led by star underclassmen and experienced seniors, both teams have jumped out to 10-4 records. Here’s what to know so far about their seasons as RM just passed the midway point of their schedules. 

Statement Wins

Both teams opened their seasons with wins over Walter Johnson, a perennial contender in the county, but faced stronger competition during the first few weeks of the season. The girls started out 3-1, after also beating Wootton and Gaithersburg before falling to B-CC. The boys team after a defeat to the Patriots rattled off six wins in a row, taking down then-ranked Sherwood and division leader Paint Branch. Going into the holiday break, the boys record stood at 5-1 and the girls were 4-2, and both teams continued their strong early start with back-to-back wins over Springbrook and Paint Branch in early January. 

After each team fell to Seneca Valley, both teams faced Churchill the following week. The Bulldogs knocked off both RM teams in the regional semifinals last season and “God’s Plan” by Drake was the top song in the US the last time both RM teams had defeated Churchill in the regular season. 

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After a slow start in the girls game, the Rockets jumped out to a large lead in the third quarter and thwarted a late Bulldog rally to pull away 47-34. The boys game was just as exciting, as the Rockets and Bulldogs exchanged shots and the lead throughout the game. Junior guard Khalil Wilson’s putback with under five seconds left in the game regained the lead for RM after Churchill converted three free throws after a foul to take a one point lead. A final coast-to-coast drive from the Bulldogs clanked off the rim and clinched the 73-72 victory for the Rockets, claiming their first win over Churchill since before COVID-19. 

Rockets Rising:  Highlights and Achievements

In an 89-80 win over Kennedy, senior guard Dante Mayo reached an achievement few in high school basketball will ever attain. In just 57 games, Mayo surpassed 1,000 points in his career with a 30-point performance. Mayo has been the go-to guy for RM in clutch time this season and has consistently delivered big shots. 

Sophomore guard Katie Diao is also on pace to also enter the 1,000 Point Club at RM, as she recently passed 500 points during the girls game against Seneca Valley. Diao, a Washington Post pre-season “player to watch,” is living up to the pre-season hype, averaging 15 points per game with an advanced set of offensive skills.

Sophomore guard Katie Diao dribbles down the court and looks for a teammate. (Ari Fine)

Fellow sophomore guard Tavares “Boogie” Vaughan-Cooper also had a momentous achievement this season as he received his first Divison I basketball offer from the College of Charleston.

 The future is certainly bright for Rocket basketball with these two sophomores, but with key seniors on both squads, this year might be the best chance for a banner since pre-Covid. 

What’s Next for RM Basketball?

The schedule doesn’t get too much easier down the stretch for the teams as both have upcoming rematches against Sherwood and Blake. As both vie for a division title, these two games will be vital if the Rockets want to stay in the race for the division, but also a high playoff seed. RM ends its season against cross-town rival Rockville, who appear to have struggled so far this season. 

 

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About the Contributor
Ari Fine, Sports Editor
Junior Ari Fine is in his third year on The Tide and second as Sports Editor. As Sports Editor again, Ari hopes to continue to innovate the section and be creative with layout designs. In his free time, Ari enjoys going on runs and playing lacrosse with friends.