Einstein Boys Basketball Beginning To Stand Tall

by Eric Meany

Josh Ogburn

Senior Josh Ogburn leads the Titans in scoring for the second straight year.

KENSINGTON, Md. — Wins were hard to come by in Rich Porac’s first year as head coach of the Albert Einstein High School boys basketball team. Losing streaks of 12 and nine games were sandwiched around the Titans’ only two victories of the 2011-12 campaign, making losses like their 74-41 drubbing at the hands of Springbrook in the penultimate game of the regular season all too common.

“Trust me, it was hard last year,” Porac said. “When you win two games in a four-month sport, even practices are tough. It’s tough to motivate them every day.”

But even as the varsity squad took it on the chin, young players like Joe Bradshaw, Raheem Hayes and Gil Reynolds were gaining valuable experience in leading the junior varsity team to a 12-4 record.

This year those young players, along with varsity holdovers Josh Ogburn and Abraham Camara, have given Einstein new life, fashioning a 9-12 record (7-7 Montgomery 3A/2A) with one game left in the regular season.

The Titans equaled last year’s win total five games into their 2012-13 schedule, but after a subsequent five-game losing streak the prospect of another long winter seemed very real. Since losing by one point to Wheaton on January 4th, however, Einstein has gone 7-4, with consecutive wins over two Class 4A teams and Montgomery 3A/2A regular-season champion Poolesville along the way.

When the season began, Porac could see that this year’s team had the potential to far outperform last year’s squad. But he was concerned that their youth and inexperience would take some time to overcome.

“Here I am starting this year with basically juniors, sophomores and Ogburn,” Porac said. “This whole process takes some time, but they’re coming together and now what’s happening is they believe. The kids in our locker room, they think we have a shot now. You win a couple games and that’s what happens.”

Especially impressive in their recent stretch was the Titans home win over Springbrook on Tuesday, as they avenged last year’s 33-point rout with an improbable 56-55 victory sealed by Ogburn’s desperation 3-point bank-shot at the buzzer.

“That couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” Porac said of Ogburn’s game-winner.

Ogburn, a 6′ 3″ senior whose basketball intelligence and team-first play have endeared him to Porac since the coach’s arrival at Einstein, is leading the team in scoring for the second consecutive year. His move to point guard after turnovers plagued the Titans early in the season stabilized the offense and started the team on its late-season roll.

“Josh Ogburn has done everything from day one that I’ve ever asked him,” Porac said. “Everything. I mean, he is the reason we’ve turned this program around. Josh is not a vocal leader, he’s a quiet kid. But kids always follow talent.”

This year Porac has a group of talented players surrounding Ogburn that give the team weapons it has lacked in previous seasons.

Camara, a 6′ 4″ junior, is averaging close to five blocks and more than 14 rebounds to go with his 13.9 points per game. Bradshaw is a 6′ 6″ junior averaging nearly 15 points per game whose height at the shooting guard position causes serious matchup difficulties for opposing defenses. Mid-season JV call-up Hayes, a 6′ 3″ sophomore, has worked his way into playing pivotal minutes and provided two clutch 3-pointers in the closing moments of the Titans recent 54-52 victory over Walter Johnson.

All have bought in to the motion offense that Porac has favored since his days coaching under Dan Harwood at Magurder. Although the team will surely miss Ogburn next year, the talent that remains should give the Titans a chance to carry over the momentum they have built up this season. And a team that is already one of the tallest in the county may get even taller.

“The doctors think [Bradshaw] might get up to 6’ 8”,” Porac said. “And Abraham’s not done growing. So between him and Abraham alone, and [Hayes], who’s only going to get better, and [Michael] McMillian, who’s only a junior, and [6′ 5″] Gil [Reynolds], the big boy that’s only a sophomore… we’re going to be pretty good next year.”

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