February 29, 2012

PDS Boys’ Hoops Falls in Prep B Title Game But Has Talent, Spirit to Make a Return Visit

PARIS SHOW: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball head coach Paris McLean energetically instructs his players last Wednesday evening as they played Rutgers Prep in the state Prep B title game. Although fourth-seeded PDS fell 72-30 to the second-seeded Argonauts, McLean was proud of the 16-11 season produced by his team as it advanced to the Prep B championship game for the first time since 2004. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After absorbing a 72-30 drubbing at Rutgers Prep last Wednesday evening in the state Prep B title game, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team didn’t hurry off the court.

Instead, the PDS players stood as one and watched as the Argonauts received the championship trophy and enjoyed a raucous celebration with their fans.

For Panther head coach Paris McLean, making his players stick around was designed to serve as motivation for the future.

“We can come back here,” said McLean, whose team finished the winter with a 16-11 record as it made its first appearance in the Prep B championship game since 2004.

“We have to work hard and do the things we need to do in the off-season and stay together as a team. That is why we watched Rutgers Prep celebrate. That is a very, very good basketball team.”

The loss in the championship game to the second-seeded Argonauts didn’t take away from the fact that it has been a very good season for the No. 4 Panthers.

“I told our boys to be proud of what they did,” said McLean, whose team upset top-seeded Morristown-Beard 48-42 in the Prep B semis.

“You look at our program over the past three years; we go from 11 wins to 15 wins to 16 wins and the title game. If that is not progress, I don’t know what is.”

McLean acknowledged that his team was in over its head against a defending champion Rutgers Prep, who had beaten the Panthers 73-46 in the regular season meeting between the rivals.

“Any time you play against five guys who are going on to the next level, it is tough,” said McLean. “It was men against boys, it was their seniors against our sophomores.”

The young Panthers did push Rutgers Prep in the second quarter, putting together a 10-7 run to narrow the gap to 27-16.

“We made a run, I think we cut it to 11,” said Mclean. “It was a stop and a bucket, a stop and a bucket. But they shot the lights out. They can shoot, they can rebound, they are big and they are athletic.”

PDS junior star Davon Reed showed some big game and athleticism, scoring 23 points in a losing cause.

“He had three bodies on him,” said McLean of Reed, who is averaging 24.3 points a game this season and has received more than 15 offers to join Division I college programs.

“If that is not one of the best players in the country, I don’t who is. I am not just talking about Xs and Os, to be that talented but to not start barking at your teammates or belittling them and to just to pick them all up consistently, that is character above anything.”

In McLean’s view, the Panthers have the talent in place to pick up a lot of wins next season.

“Obviously you have the centerpiece in Davon,” said McLean “You have Deante [Cole], you have Langston [Glaude]. We brought some kids off the bench tonight that never saw the varsity floor. We are young but we are good. We have kids who love the game and want to work hard and get better.”

After watching Rutgers Prep enjoy the spoils of victory, the tears flowed in the PDS locker room.

“If you walked in there, you wouldn’t see a dry eye,” said McLean. “It is not just because they are upset about the loss but they understand our time together this season is over. We spend a lot of time together; it is a tight team. We will start up again real soon, there is no rest for us.”