A winning team's identity is often forged throughout the course of a season. Opportunities to face adversity head-on arise week-to-week, thus providing that team with the chance to answer questions they may have about themselves.
One such opportunity arose for the Trojans of John Milledge Academy (8-1 overall, 2-0 region) Friday when they found themselves down at the half by a score of 29-26 to the visiting Westminster Wildcats, a region opponent. The host Trojans, three-time defending region champs, found it in themselves to come back and win the region matchup 58-52.
The game up to that point had been a struggle as the Trojans uncharacteristically fell behind by a score of 9-2 with 4:20 to go in the opening quarter.
The play by Devin Story of the Wildcats cannot go unmentioned, as he was a consistent thorn in the side of the Trojans’ defense and a huge reason they were out to an early lead.
Some hard work in the paint by sophomore Marcus Prestwood as well as a deep three-pointer by senior Javien Tucker provided a jolt to the home side, but the Trojans still found themselves trailing 17-10 at the end of the first.
Westminster picked up where they left off in the second as they relied heavily on the offensive ability of Story, eventually stretching the lead out to 21-10 with six minutes to go in the first half.
Prestwood would single-handedly cut the lead to 23-15 with pair of back-to-back "and-one" opportunities, one of which he was able to fully capitalize on. These two possessions undoubtedly swung the momentum of the game and would spark a scoring run by the Trojans to close out the half.
JMA senior Parker Blenk showed his range by splashing home a three, cutting the deficit to six with just under four minutes remaining. The Wildcats answered with a two of their own, but Blenk was nowhere near finished as he dribbled the length of the court before knocking down another deep three, cutting the lead to just four points. Following a successful Westminster possession, Prestwood was able to work the ball into the teeth of the defense and score inside. Then after a stop on the other end, Blenk turned it up yet another notch by pulling from five feet outside the arc to splash home his third straight three, making the score a very tight 27-26 with the Trojans still trailing slightly. Westminster would answer with a mid-range jumpshot to close out the half with the 29-26 lead over JMA.
Blenk was the story of the third quarter as he picked up where he left off, hitting a deep three on the first possession for the Trojans.
Patrick McDonel supplemented the offense by scoring on the next possession from under the basket, while Blenk would go on to hit another back-to-back pair of three-pointers; the second of which was a isolation step back that tied the score at 38 to set the home crowd ablaze.
Prestwood and McDonel rode the offensive wave to close out the quarter as they each would find successful looks inside. Prestwood was able to convert on an and-one opportunity while Tucker hit a jumpshot to close out the quarter with the lead 47-40.
In the fourth and final period of play the Trojans dominated possession, only allowing the opposing Wildcats to get within two points on one occasion before running away with the game in the closing minutes.
Westminster’s Story led all scorers with 34 points, but left the Trojan Center with a loss. Blenk paced the Trojans with his 25 points, 21 of which came from beyond the arc, while Prestwood scored a majority of his 20 in the paint.
The John Milledge boys will take their unblemished region record on the road tonight to Loganville Christian for a boys-only night of action. The Trojans are scheduled to travel to Bethlehem Christian Friday before hosting Trinity Christian Saturday in a non-region bout.