Douglass High boys’ basketball coach Rodney Cofield often teases Dwayne Brewer about his ability to lead to the Ducks.
“I tell him all the time I don’t think his back his strong back to carry us,” said Cofield referring to Brewer’s slight 5-foot-9 frame.
There’s no doubt the Ducks’ aspirations this winter will rest heavily on the senior guard. Brewer and No. 20 Douglass kicked off the season on the right note with a 68-60 victory over Randallstown in the opening game of the Spark at the Park Mixer at Forest Park Monday afternoon.
Brewer led all scorers with 26 points, and junior Anthony Smith added 16 for Douglass (1-0 overall). Sophomore Marcus Varner had 17 points to lead Randallstown (0-1) and senior guard Nick Doolin finished with 16 points.
The west Baltimore school pulled out to a double digit in the second half before winning the free throw battle down the stretch. Cofield was pleased to get the tough non-league starter, especially against a team the Ducks had classic postseason battles with over the years.
“We did some things right, but we did a lot of things wrong,” said Cofield. “We didn’t box out well and relied too much on the big kids getting the ball, that’s not going to help when we get deeper into the season.”
Leading 35-29 at intermission, Douglass doubled its advantage to 12 at 47-35 midway in the third as Brewer accounted for half of the 12-6 push. He capped the run with an alley-oop pass to Devaughn Simms.
Brewer opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, expanding the Ducks’ cushion to 57-43. A four-year starter, Brewer is one of three returning starters among six letter winners.
“We go as he goes. I got to get him to think the game a little bit more,” said Cofield. “He plays the game extremely well.”
“I have to get my team involved,” said Brewer, who received 12 points from junior backcourt mate Davon Vennie. “Once I did that, I know it was my time to take over.”
Trailing 18-15 after opening eight minutes, Douglass gained the lead for good by halftime as Brewer, Vennie and Smith combined for 14 points. The Ducks opened their largest lead at 14 after Brewer’s opening fourth quarter trey, but Randallstown would rally.
A basket by Doolin (12 points in second half) pulled the Rams to within 59-54 with 2 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in regulation. The Baltimore County school got no closer as a layup by Simms sandwiched between three free throws by Sanders pushed Douglass’ lead back to double digits with 1:25 to play.
The Rams, who should be in the hunt for the Baltimore County title, have only Doolin back from last season’s starting five, along with six letter winners. Randallstown coach Kevin English said his team will have to change its identity in 2010-11.
“In the past, we’ve been dominant in rebounding; this year I think we’re going to have a little bit more scrappy,” said English, whose team lost to Milford Mill in the county finals last winter. “We had a lull in the second half, but we have scrappy from start to finish.”
Douglass has a similar approach towards a powerhouse Baltimore City league this season. Brewer said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“All we want to do is be competitive,” said Cofield. “We know we won’t have a night off.”