The Bishop Loughlin boys basketball team does not enjoy losing — even when game doesn’t really mean much.
The Lions fell 74–71 to St. Raymond’s in the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic — an exhibition that does not affect Catholic league rankings — at Rucker Park on June 20. The much-hyped game lived up to expectations as the two squads — league rivals during the regular season — battled down to the final buzzer. That didn’t mean, however, that Bishop Loughlin, or its star point guard Markquis Nowell, were happy with the way things ended.
“They know my game, and they know our game as a team,” Nowell said. “They got the win and that’s tough.”
He had been looking forward to the game, anxious to showcase his skills in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
The junior hit his stride in big-time moments, playing to the reaction of the crowd as he drained a handful of late-game jumpers to help Loughlin take a 71–70 lead with a little more than a minute to play.
Nowell enjoyed playing in front of friends and family, but there was also pressure to perform.
The point guard has picked up the nickname “Mr. NYC,” and the moniker weighs heavily on Nowell whenever he catches the ball. He wants to represent his city, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.
At just 5-foot-8, him isn’t towering over anyone else, and it isn’t easy for him to impose his will on opponents when he’s driving the lane. So Nowell relies on his ball-handling skills to create separation, giving him the half-second he needs to sink a shot or dish it off to a teammate.
“This is a great city,” Nowell said. “They always supported me, and everybody from the city knows I’m going to do my best to play for them.”
He finished with a team-high 22 points, but he was the first to admit that he didn’t have his best game against St. Raymond’s. He regularly expects to lead his squad to victories, and watching the Ravens hit the go-ahead layup with only seconds on the clock was painful for Nowell.
It’s a feeling he’s planning on using for motivation. Bishop Loughlin and Nowell will be back on the Rucker court several times this summer, and the squad is determined to make sure recent history doesn’t repeat itself.
“I’m very competitive,” Nowell said. “We’re going to get them next time. We’ve just got to focus up.”