December 25, 2019

Fueled by Memory of Prep Loss to Pennington, PDS Boys’ Basketball Rolls Past Red Raiders

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team hosted Pennington last week, it brought some extra motivation into the contest.

“We were just real focused, they knocked us out of Preps last year 66-63 so today we wanted to come in and make a statement,” said PDS senior guard Jaylin Champion-Adams, referring to the Panthers’ loss to the Red Raiders in the Prep B semis last season.

PDS made an early statement in the December 17 rematch, jumping out to a 10-0 lead.

“That definitely set the tone; we just came in and we had a lot of energy,” said Champion-Adams. “The bench kept us alive and everybody was working.”

Champion-Adams and his teammates kept working hard, pulling away to a 69-34 victory.

“We just kept on getting our mind on what happened last year,” said Champion-Adams. “It kept in the back of our heads.”

Starting the third period with three buckets in the first few minutes of the half, Champion-Adams made sure that Pennington didn’t come back in the rivalry game.

“I didn’t want to lose the lead,” said Champion-Adams, who ended up tallying a game-high 21 points. “I was just keeping it going.”

Over the course of his PDS career, Champion-Adams has kept going despite a series of injuries.

“As a senior, it has been a long ride,” said Champion-Adams. “Going through injuries is nothing; after each injury, I just try to get better and better. I don’t let it get to me.”

Coming into his final campaign, Champion-Adams has focused on fine-tuning his game.

“For the most part, I worked on shooting, attacking the rim, and trying to stay strong,” said Champion-Adams. “I have worked on my ball-handling, going left, going right, stuff like that.”

PDS head coach Doug Davis acknowledged that his team got strong motivation from the Prep tourney loss to Pennington.

“We had that on our minds, playing them here and losing 66-63,” said Davis. “We were taking it a little bit personally.”

Reflecting on the way his team took it to the Red Raiders, Davis liked what he saw. “We played well, we just have to put games together,” said Davis.

“We put this whole game together and it showed. We all played well, top to bottom.”

Davis credited Champion-Adams with playing particularly well. “When Jaylin comes to play and wants to be the guy for us, he can do that,” said Davis.

“He has been doing that most of the time as well. Jaylin is the heart and soul of our team; wherever he goes, we go.”

The arrival of 6’7 junior transfer Ethan Garita has been a big plus for the Panther team.

“He is just adding some height to the floor for us,” said Davis of Garita, who had 14 points and seven rebounds against Pennington. “He has some nice post moves.”

The battle-tested backcourt of senior Jomar Meekins and junior Dameon Samuels had some nice moments in the win over the Red Raiders

“They pressure the ball and they get us into our sets,” said Davis, who got 10 points from Meekins with Samuels chipping in 11. “They are awesome for us.”

With PDS tipping off the 2020 portion of its schedule by hosting Lawrenceville on January 6, Davis sees good things ahead for the Panthers.

“I am happiest with our fire, we are all just excited to play,” said Davis, whose team went 1-1 at the Hill School (Pa.) tournament last weekend, falling 60-58 to the Canterbury School (Conn.) before defeating Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 71-54 to move to 4-2.

“We like each other. We like playing with each other, hanging around each other off the court. It has just been a  really good start to the season, on and off the court. Everybody is excited and everybody is into it.”

Champion-Adams, for his part, likes how the squad has come together at both ends of the court. “Everybody is sharing the ball this year,” he said.

“Defensively we are locked in, everybody is making the right rotation. We are just trying to stay locked in and keep it going.”