SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Markelle Fultz and his DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) teammates trailed Chaminade (St. Louis) by 10 points with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but there was no panic in Fultz’s game Monday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
That paid dividends as the No. 8 Stags rallied for a 72-69 overtime defeat of the No. 14 Red Devils. Fultz, who has signed with Washington, finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead DeMatha (16-2). The loss drops Chaminade to 16-5.
“We definitely didn’t panic,” Stags coach Mike Jones said. “I say our staff should take credit for that. We don’t panic, so our players shouldn’t. A lot of times the players take on the personality of the guys leading the team, and to make it even easier, Markelle didn’t panic and that sets the tone.”
While Fultz didn’t keep up with the 40 points and 14 rebounds put up by Chaminade’s Jayson Tatum, he didn’t have to. He just made the key plays when the Stags needed it. On one occasion, his shot was blocked by Tatum, but Fultz stopped the ensuing fast break with a hustle play. With his team trailing by two in regulation, he started to fumble the ball out of bounds, but instead managed to get it to Kellon Taylor, who nailed a two to send it to overtime.
“When we were down eight, my mindset was take over the game by playmaking,” Fultz said. “I didn’t have to score every time. I got to the rim and had two defenders on me, so I kicked it out for three, I kicked it out for easy layups and got to the free-throw line. My mindset was to take over the game and do whatever we needed to do. If we lose, the loss is on me. I’m always going to make the right play.”
While the Duke-bound Tatum was a dominant force, he was 1-for-9 on three-point attempts, including a last-ditch shot at the buzzer that went front rim.
“I know he missed a couple of shots,” Fultz said. “He had to work for every shot. He couldn’t just catch and shoot. He had to dribble for his shots.”
Jones said the crazy thing is his team did a good job on Tatum and he still managed 40 points.
“Obviously Jayson is a great kid,” Jones said. “If somebody is going to do that to your team, you hope it’s somebody who’s as humble and as great a kid he is. For the 40 points he got, he worked for every one. … He’s a 6-9 All-American. He’s going to score some points.”
DeMatha also got big contributions from D.J. Harvey, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“First of all, he rebounded like a maniac,” Jones said. “He had a couple of run-downs or deflections. We impacted a couple of plays from behind and he’s one of the best mid-range shooters in high school basketball. We really needed him today.”
While Nate Darling struggled at times on both ends, including a big turnover at the start of overtime, the Alabama-Birmingham commit nailed four consecutive free throws to put the game away.
“Nate didn’t play well,” Jones said. “But again, you have confidence in a guy. He didn’t go on the bench and pout. He came out, made his free throws and hit a big three that we really needed the last couple of minutes.”