January 15, 2020

Lifted by Samuels’ Play at Point Guard, PDS Boys’ Basketball Defeats PHS 57-43

ON POINT: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Dameon Samuels drives to the basket against Princeton High last Monday. Junior guard Samuels scored 13 points to help PDS pull away to a 57-43 win over PHS. The Panthers, now 7-4, hosts Hopewell Valley on January 16 before playing at Doane Academy on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In his first two seasons with the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team, Dameon Samuels took a backseat as David “Diggy” Coit ran the team’s offense.

But with Coit having graduated, junior point guard Samuels is now triggering the PDS attack.

“I learned a lot from Diggy, handling the ball and knowing when to get to the basket and knowing when to pass the ball,” said Samuels.

“Now as a junior, it is my turn to run the offense. I have to keep up my scrappiness like I have always been.”

Last Monday, Samuels deftly handled the ball all game long and added 13 points to help PDS defeat Princeton High 57-43, a particularly sweet win since the Panthers lost twice last season to their crosstown rivals.

“It is a pride thing; every time we play them it is a rivalry game,” said Samuels, reflecting on the matchup. “We just want to beat them every single time. We had to get this one.”

The PDS defense changed the tone of the contest as the Panthers outscored PHS 12-7 in the second quarter to take a 27-21 halftime lead and seize momentum.

“Our coach [Doug Davis] keeps telling us, punch them in the face and keep punching,” said Samuels.

“We didn’t do that at first and we had to come back out and hit them in the face and keep going.”

In the fourth quarter, PHS landed some punches as it narrowed the gap to 50-43 with 1:46 remaining but PDS thwarted the Tigers from there.

“We practice situational stuff all the time; it was coming down to our guards settling things down,” said Samuels.

“If we needed to push, we pushed. If we don’t need to, we just slow it down.”

Draining five free throws in the waning minutes of the contest, Samuels helped settle the Panthers. “If we miss a free throw in practice, we run,” said Samuels. “It is common for us to just make free throws at the end of the game.”

While Samuels has excelled defensively since the start of his PDS career, he has worked hard to improve his offensive game.

“All I was doing in the summer time was working out with my AAU team, getting better and better,” said Samuels. “I can showcase it now.”

PDS head coach Davis believes Samuels is getting better and better.

“The way he runs the offense and the way he attacks has been great for us,” said Davis of Samuels. “He was able to knock down some free throws at the end to help us out a bit. Just watching film from from his sophomore year to this year, he is doing well.”

Beating PHS was a great win for PDS. “That is a really good team; they just play, they run all of their sets the right way,” said Davis.

“He [Pat Noone] coaches them up, you can tell. It just comes down to our guys sticking to what we do. If we stick to what we do and not deviate from the plan, we will be OK.” Davis liked the defensive effort he got from his guys as they limited PHS to 13 points combined in the second and third quarters.

“When you light that fire in our guys, we are a pretty good defensive team,” said Davis.

The one-two punch of senior Jaylin Champion-Adams and junior transfer Ethan Garita also helps makes the Panthers pretty good.

“They have been doing that all year,” said Davis, who got 19 points from Champion-Adams with the 6’7 Garita contributing 13 as he employed some nice moves in the post.

“Jaylin is just an athlete. He is able to slash and hit the occasional three. Ethan is taking advantage of his size.”

With PDS hosting Hopewell Valley on January 16 before playing at Doane Academy on January 18, Davis will be looking for his players to utilize intensity and athleticism.

“We just have to make sure that we are playing hard all of the time,” said Davis. “If we do those things and play smart, we will be good.”

Samuels, for his part, sees good things ahead for the Panthers. “Last year we lost to teams we should not have lost to so now we are trying to pick it up,” said Samuels.

“Coach keeps saying it is a culture change in a year for us. We are a better team. We are more together, more cohesive.”