Bullis Downs Prep in IAC Opener

By Adam Chasen:
Bethesda, MD - The Bullis Bulldogs (9-3) certainly did not get off to the start in IAC play they had hoped for a season ago, but they bounced back and surprised many by winning the conference tournament. This season will clearly be a different story as Bullis defeated Georgetown Prep (7-6) on the road Tuesday night to open up conference play by a score of 63-61.

A revamped Bullis squad has numerous scoring options to depend on, but the story of the night was the defense, specifically the defensive play of sophomore Anthony Thompson. Thompson drew two early offensive fouls on Prep point guard J.T. Strickland and helped force numerous turnovers. Thompson also added 16-points on the offensive end, many of which were timely buckets.

Prep led at the end of the first quarter 23-9 and looked to continue what had been strong play as of late. Senior Taylor Abt (Holy Cross commit) made his presence known on the interior and senior guard Jeff Hale (High Point Lax commit) knocked down all three of his long range attempts to build the early lead.

Abt continued to show-off his versatile skill set, at 6'9" banging down low as well as knocking down the open 3. With Strickland sitting for long stretches through most of the 2nd quarter, Bullis found some success with their defensive pressure and began to eat at the lead. Junior guard Joe Hazel drilled a deep-3 to close the half and pull Bullis within two. The Bullis defense held Prep to just 5-points in the quarter while scoring 17 of their own.

One of the new faces in the Bullis program, junior guard/forward Jonathan Tshibuy and Prep's Abt battled back and forth for most of the third, leading both teams to a 43-43 tie to enter the 4th quarter. Tshibuy (18-points) and Thompson led a full court pressure for most of the 4th quarter that gave Prep, minus Strickland for the most part, fits. One fourth quarter steal, was picked off at midcourt by Tshibuy, who then attacked the basket and threw down a two-handed power slam to ignite the traveling Bullis crowd.

Free throw shooting, late in the game, became a major factor with Bullis in the lead. Bullis missed on several attempts keeping Prep close, but in the final minute it was Taylor Abt who could not convert on either of his two shots that could have tied the game. Montrose Christian transfer, Nigel Pruitt knocked down two free throws for Bullis with ten seconds remaining to extend the lead to 5. Jeff Hale knocked down a final three for Prep as time expired in the two point win for the visitors.

Both programs were active over the holiday break hosting their own respective hoops tournaments with mixed results. Prep finished 2-1 in their tournament, losing in the finals to Strake Jesuit (Houston, TX), while Bullis was 1-2 beating Wilson (D.C) and dropping games to local schools Carroll and Spalding.

Bullis will play a non-conference game hosting The Heights on Friday, while Prep will get a chance to take on St. Stephens, on the road in IAC play, on Friday night as well.