Putnam pg 9 3-14-19

Putnam Science Academy Mustangs had a big target on their back from the start of the season after winning the 2018 National Prep Championship.
It has always been hard to repeat in any sport but the Mustangs were up for the task and looked like they were on their way to do so this season. PSA had just one loss on its record while recording 37 wins and clinching the Great Atlantic Conference title.
The rankings were set and the bracket was released with the Mustangs earning the #2 seed which would give them a significant advantage in the tournament. With Woodstock Academy Gold taking the #1 seed, PSA was at the bottom of the bracket and had a really good chance of going far once again.
The tournament began with the Mustangs taking on Hargrave Military Academy March 6 who defeated Link Year Prep earlier in the day to advance to the next round. Putnam Science had rest and took full advantage of it by subbing in multiple players and using depth to defeat Hargrave 77-64. First-year Mustang and Wichita State-commit Tyson Etienne led PSA with 20 points and controlled the game from the point guard position but it was the returnees from last years’ championship team that would make the difference. Junior guard Demarr Langford had numerous tip-ins around the basket posting a monster double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds and fellow Junior Hassan Diarra added 14 points and 9 rebounds in the win to send Putnam Science to the Final 4.
Key losses in the National Prep tournament set the stage for an intriguing final four. #1 seed Woodstock Academy lost in the final seconds to #8 seed Brewster Academy and #4 seed Mount Zion fell to the #5 seed Massanutten Military Academy. The Mustangs were the highest seed remaining and it was looking like the stars were aligning for another National Prep Championship appearance.
Scotland Campus Sports had other ideas.
A program that was in just its third year and already made a run in last year’s National Prep tournament, Scotland as the #3 seed defeated #6 seed Northfield Mount Hermon, a team that lost in the Prep Championship game to PSA last year.
So the stage was set: Scotland, Putnam Science, Brewster and Massanutten. The Mustangs found themselves in a dog fight versus Scotland Campus with the #3 seed from Pennsylvania shot lights out in the first half and led PSA by 11 points. But the Mustangs had plenty of fight in them and did what they’ve done pretty much all year long — make a comeback.
PSA cut the lead to 4 with 8:46 remaining in the second half thanks to better free throw shooting and the guards making plays at both ends. Tyson Etienne had a chase down block that led to 2 free throws from Bryant-commit Charles Pride and he made both. Hassan Diarra started the second half with 6 straight points converting tough shots in the lane when the Mustangs needed it most. Texas Tech commit Russel Tchewa used his entire 7-foot frame to block shots and created a shot-altering presence in the paint against an undersized Scotland team.
With 2:07 to play, the Mustangs tied the game.
Diarra weaved his way into the paint floating up with a left handed lay-up that tied things up at 71. With more than 100 fans including students and staff of Putnam Science Academy, the Mustangs faithful had Connecticut College rocking throughout the game. After a Scotland timeout, a miscommunication on defense by Putnam Science allowed an open corner 3 that would splash as did most of Scotland Campus’s shots March 7.
Time ticked down and with 33 seconds on the clock, Scotland had a 3-point lead 74-71. Both teams struggled down the stretch at the free throw line but Scotland strung a pair of free throws to take a 76-74 lead. The Mustangs fouled and to the line Scotland’s Dequarius Nicholas stepped with 16 points already in the contest. Nicholas sunk the first free throw but would hit back iron on the 2nd and insert Dumb and Dumber quote, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” 7.7 seconds away from defeat, Diarra raced down the court and got a screen from Tchewa, Etienne trailed Diarra going left to right and received a dump-off pass near the sideline about 5 feet behind the 3-point line. Etienne fired an off-balance 3 as time expired that silenced a deafening crowd. The shot was on-line but the dream run would come to an end as the ball rimmed out and Scotland escaped and took down the defending Prep Champions. Guard Diarra was the only player on Putnam Science that scored in double figures finishing with 20 points adding 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the 77-74 defeat.
Scotland would play Brewster Academy in the championship game but it was the Bobcats who ran away with a 67-51 win, their fourth championship in the last six years.
Not all bad for the Mustangs who wrap up a 38-2 season and will return another six players from this year’s team: Hassan Diarra, Kareem Reid, Abou Ousmane, Luc Brittian, Marty Silvera and Demarr Langford. The Mustangs have built a winning culture and will be right back in the mix next year on the National Prep Basketball scene.
Josh Sanchas
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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