AFTER ABSORBING a late, gotta-stop-the-clock foul, Elijah Ingram stepped to the line and said to a nearby opponent, "It was like you hit me with a pile driver. I'm gonna talk to my mom about you."
Still babbling, he then nailed both free throws to help visiting Kensington High claim victory in a wildly entertaining Public D basketball opener yesterday.
Soon, Ingram, a 6-3, 180-pound senior forward, was sitting on the bench, discussing the Tigers' 86-78, double-overtime triumph over nearby Jules Mastbaum Tech, and he was trying to convince a listener he can zip his lips, when necessary.
A teammate sitting nearby laughed and offered, "He's lying. He is always the class clown. He can't ever be quiet."
Similarly, it's doubtful any court stenographer could keep up with Ingram. In the time it takes normal folks to say 10 words, he has roared past 15 and is knocking on 20's door.
Ingram shot 8-for-13 from the floor and 9-for-9 from the line for 25 points, while adding 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.
As his first free throw attempt sailed toward the bucket, Ingram said, "That's off! . . . Sike." The ball swished.
"Nah, I really did think it was gonna miss," he said later. "When I saw it go in, I had to correct myself."
Another time, as he stepped to the line, he blurted out, "I'm not missing free throws."
Though the rest of Ingram's nonstop comments were inaudible beyond the playing area, they must have been funny, because his teammates, and even Mastbaum's players, often smiled.
"The players and spectators like it, but sometimes coach [Jason Skovronski] gets on me to tone things down," Ingram said. "It's about sparking my team. Keeping them loose. I'm just trying to keep that positive energy going at all times. You need that in basketball."
You need to hit free throws, too.
"Man, foul shooting, that's one of the most fundamental things in the game," he said. "You always have to concentrate on those. I take mine serious. You know how it goes. Check out the championship teams. They make their free throws."
In the the OTs, with fatigue likely contributing, Kensington went 10-for-16 at the line. It was mostly golden beforehand (12-for-14) and four of those makes, exclusively in the fourth quarter, completed three-point plays that helped get the game to OT.
At that juncture, roughly half the "crowd" departed.
Because of rowdy fan behavior during Friday's season opener, student spectators (except for Mastbaum's JV players) were not permitted. As regulation ended, those guys headed upstairs to practice and only a dozen family members - along with Mastery Charter South coach Omar Richburg, on a scouting mission, and security personnel - were left to enjoy the remaining show.
A three-point play by Kensington guard Jamie Betancourt (21 points, four apiece of assists and steals) made it 63-63 with 37.3 seconds left in regulation. After Anthony Brown forced a turnover, Betancourt was unable to convert a hard drive from the left wing.
The first extra session ended 72-72, thanks to a right-wing trey (pass from Stanley Whittaker) by Mastbaum's Keenan Tookes (his third; 15 total points); the Panthers had stormed back from an early six-point deficit.
In OT No. 2, two free throws by Mastbaum's Ravi Sinanan's (eight of 12 points beyond regulation; 10 total rebounds) made it 74-72. Betancourt then fed Julius VanGuine (17 points) for a threeball and the Tigers would not be tamed.
Whittaker, a slight junior point guard, was beyond terrific. Aside from scoring 28 points, he led the Panthers in rebounds (11), while adding five assists, seven steals and even three blocks. Donald Avery drove hard for 18 points.
Ingram, who lives on 5th near Diamond, played his first varsity hoops at Ben Franklin and this is his second season with Kensington. He attends the school's culinary campus (one of four), but his long-range goal is to work in recreation or sports administration.
So, can he cook?
"Come over my house sometime for breakfast," he said. "I'll make you bacon and eggs with cheese. I'll be doin' my thing.
"Or wait till July 4 and then come over. All kinds of good stuff."
Soon, Elijah Ingram was being asked to detail the approach he takes while playing offense.
He then showed he can be succinct, not to mention perceptive.
"If you can drive, do it," he said. "If you get double-teamed, pass it. See? That's how easy this game is."