Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Paint Branch entered Monday’s matchup at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on an offensive tear.

The Panthers, based out of Burtonsville, had scored more than 75 points in three consecutive games, and were three days removed from star guard Isaiah Lee exploding for a career-high 41 points.

In a matchup that pitted two of the top teams in Montgomery County against each other, Paint Branch missed 14-of-30 free throw attempts and Lee, who entered the night averaging more than 17 points per game, was unable to score with his usual ease.

Regardless, interior scoring and strong defense led the Panthers to a 60-52 road victory over the Barons, improving their record to 12-2 on the season and establishing themselves as one of the best squads in the county.

Paint Branch and Bethesda-Chevy Chase players battle for a reboundPaint Branch and Bethesda-Chevy Chase players battle for a rebound on Jan, 29. Credit: Shaun Chornobroff

“We really don’t pay attention to what the score looks like,” said Paint Branch Head Coach Darrian Lee. “As long as we take care of business and do things the way we’re trained to do, and they play the way they’re coached to do, things just take care of themself.”

It took nearly four minutes for Paint Branch to notch a point on Monday. When the Panthers finally did, via a free throw with 4:13 remaining in the opening quarter, Bethesda-Chevy Chase had already racked up nine points.

At the conclusion of the first quarter, Paint Branch was down a single point. When the final buzzer of the half screeched through the gymnasium, the Panthers had a four-point lead it maintained for the entirety of the second half.

“Execute, play solid defense, your ball will fall,” said Darrian Lee. 

With the loss, Bethesda-Chevy Chase falls to 10-4 on the season. The Barons’ defeats have come against Richard Montgomery, Wootton, Whitman and Paint Branch, four of the top-five teams in the Montgomery County standings.

“A lot of times we’re doing things we don’t normally do,” said Bethesda-Chevy Chase Head Coach Sean Tracy. “We hadn’t turned over the ball this much in a while. We just got away from what we had been doing, we just got to get back to what we do and how we play.”

Offensively, Paint Branch was paced by center Dennis Tamnou, who led all scorers with 14 points.

Unlike many centers he’s matched up against, Tamnou is not overwhelmingly tall. However, the senior’s combination of athleticism and comfort off the dribble makes him a problematic presence for opposing defenses.

Jordan Horm (#15) and Dennis Tamnou (right) of Paint Branch wait for a pass.Jordan Horm (#15) and Dennis Tamnou (right) of Paint Branch wait for a pass. Credit: Shaun Chornobroff

“Most big guys can’t move their feet at the speed that Dennis can dribble the ball. We look at that as being an advantage on our end,” said Darrian Lee.

Not far behind Tamnou were Jordan Horm and Ryan Tientcheu with 12 points each. Isaiah Lee had six points and led the team with four assists.

Horm persevered through an injured ankle on Monday, rating the pain an 8.5 out of 10 after the game.

“Not playing 100 [percent] is hard because I can’t get all the rebounds I’m supposed to get. I can’t jump. I can’t make the layups I’m supposed to make. I can’t play defense right,” said Horm, who set a school record with 24 rebounds on Dec. 5 against Watkins Mill. 

Even with his ailment, Horm scored 10 of his 12 points in the paint and grabbed five rebounds. When asked, Horm said his participation was never in question.

“That’s the football in him,” Darrian Lee said. “That’s just how he’s built, hard-nosed guy. … If he tells me he can’t go, then he won’t go, but if he says he can go, I believe him.”

Next Games:

Paint Branch: vs Springbrook (7:15 p.m., Feb. 2), @ Blake (7:15 p.m., Feb. 5) vs. John F. Kennedy (7:15 p.m., Feb. 9)

Bethesda-Chevy Chase: @ Blair (7:15 p.m., Jan. 30), @ Walter Johnson (7:15 p.m., Feb. 2) vs. Wootton (7:15 p.m., Feb. 9)

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