putnam pg 7 2-8-24

When they’re playing this well, even the losses don’t feel as bad.
PSA’s Prep basketball team has turned its season around since losing nine of its first 20 games, so Tuesday’s loss in a much-ballyhooed affair against Overtime Elite’ OSL Jelly Fam was viewed as just a blip and one heck of a ballgame.
PSA responded by reeling off three wins in the aftermath, including a dismantling of Mt. Zion Academy, the fifth-ranked team in the country, Thursday.
“We’re playing hard,” coach Tom Espinosa said, “and that’s been a big difference. Guys are really working, and we just really feel like we’re on our way up.”
Justin Johnson had 29 points and Ben Ahmed finished with 19 and nine rebounds against Jelly Fam, which features three of the Top 100 prospects in the Class of 2024 (including No. 8 Ian Jackson, who is committed to North Carolina), but PSA went cold in a seven-minute span of the second half and had its six-game winning streak snapped with the 90-86 loss.
Grant Randall hit a 3-pointer at the 10-minute mark to give PSA a 65-59 lead, but the Mustangs made just one of their next eight shots (plus four free throws) and fell behind 81-71 with 3:13 to go.
Still, PSA had a chance at the end. Johnson made three free throws with 41.9 seconds left, getting PSA within 86-84. The Mustangs then got a steal on the ensuing inbound play, but almost immediately turned it back over. Jelly Fam made one free throw before Fallou Gueye scored in the lane to make the score 87-86.
PSA again stole the pass on the inbound with 15 seconds remaining, but Gueye had the ball stripped away as he got into the paint. An intentional foul was then called on PSA, giving Jelly Fam two free throws (which they made) and possession of the ball. They made one more free throw for the final score.
PSA put it behind them quickly though, dropping Mt. Zion behind Gueye’s 17 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals, and Ahmed’s 13th double-double of the season (13 points, 12 rebounds). Oswin Erhunmwunse finished with six points, 10 boards, and three blocks, and Tony Williams chipped in 13 points. Derrick Morris didn’t score but did pull down six rebounds, had two assists, two steals, blocked a shot, and played terrific defense.
Erhunmwunse scored a career-high 20 points Saturday to go along with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, leading PSA to a 93-68 win over Dynastie Academy, a last-minute fill-in after PSA’s original opponent cancelled. Williams added 13 points and five assists, and Morris had two points, seven rebounds, six assists, and a pair of steals for PSA.
PSA beat another team from Canada Sunday, topping Thetford Academy 96-67. Gueye continued his recent run of strong play, finishing with a career-high 23 points, plus four rebounds, three steals, and three assists. Over his last five games, the 6-6 point guard is averaging 15.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.4 steals.
Erhunmwunse dominated play in the second half, scoring 13 of his 18 points and grabbing six of his eight rebounds after halftime. Ahmed finished with 11 points and six rebounds, and Grant Randall added 10 points and four boards for PSA (20-10). Williams also had another solid game, chipping in seven points, four rebounds, three assists, and five steals in the win.
Stephen Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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