SportsExciting matchups and upsets in DCIAA basketball championships

Exciting matchups and upsets in DCIAA basketball championships

In heated matches during the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Assocition’s (DCIAA) basketball championships on Saturday, Dunbar High School’s girls team and Jackson-Reed High School’s boys team proved victorious.

Girls’ Basketball Championship: Dunbar vs. Eastern High School 

The girls’ basketball championship game presented an intriguing contrasting matchup between two programs. Dunbar’s team has ruled the DCIAA the past four years, and their counterpart, Eastern High was in unfamiliar territory, playing in their first tournament in two decades.  

While both made it to the championship game, when it was all said and done, the Crimson Tide’s experience and pedigree was the determining factor as they prevailed 51-36 over the upstart Ramblers in the championship game at Calvin Coolidge High School in Northwest, D.C.

Dunbar defeated Eastern High School during the DCIAA girls basketball championship on Feb. 17 in D.C. (WI file photo)
During the five-year span, Dunbar has had three different coaches.  Breanna Gross is in her first year at the helm after inheriting a championship program.

“As a coach coming into a program like this, there is not much you have to change,” says Gross, a former Division 1 college coach at Coppin State.  “They are used to winning.  It has become a part of the culture here. They know what it takes because they have been there before and love the status of being champion.”

Early on the Ramblers scrapped their way by playing on the adrenaline of their fans, creating turnovers and getting into transition.  Most of their success came from the outside shooting of Samia Greene and the dazzling all-around play of Lanaia Martin, one the most talented freshmen in the DMV.

Still, Dunbar was able to keep them at bay until a third-quarter run that got the Ramblers to within three.

Gross called a timeout to calm her team down and it resulted in a big run that essentially put the game away.

Junior guard Emorean Thomas and sophomore center Kirsten Holt combined to score 10 of their team’s last 12 points during the important run.

“There’s pressure every year,” said Thomas, a member of the program for the past two years.  “It helps to have been there before.  We know that we can respond to challenges.”

Holt was named the MVP after leading all scorers with 19 points 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.  Thomas added 12 points to the victory.

For the Ramblers, it was a learning experience.  The team went back-to-back with winless seasons before the arrival of Coach Lonnie Harrell.  Harrell is an Eastern alum, who had an outstanding career at Georgetown.

“When we started out in the preseason, there were a number of players who were even not sure that they wanted to be a part of this,” recalled Harrell, who was an assistant at Riverdale Baptist before returning to his alma mater.  “But once they saw the benefits of winning and what goes along with it, they bought in.  We learned a lot from this experience that we can build on.  It is going to help us in the future.”

Eastern’s 5-foot-10-inch forward Martin was a force to be reckoned with, scoring 14 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and recording five steals and blocked shots.

“She is definitely a special talent,” said Gross, impressed with  Martin’s skills.

Harrell said: If she does what she is supposed to do, I predict she will be the first All-American here at Eastern.”

Both teams now await the announcement of the pairing for the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) tournament which begins on Feb. 28.

“We strategically scheduled some top-notch programs like St. John’s and Georgetown Day to help us prepare for the states,” noted Gross.

Jackson-Reed Goes Head to Head with Cardozo

In the boys’ game, both teams entered the game with something to prove.  

Jackson-Reed (32-2), the regular season champion and one of the top-ranked teams in the country, boasted a 17-game win streak and was looking to atone a bitter upset defeat to Bard last year in the semifinals despite being heavily favored.

The Jackson-Reed boys basketball team and coaching staff pose after their DCIAA championship win over Cardozo at Calvin Coolidge High School in Northwest, D.C. on Feb. 17. (Marcus Relacion/The Washington Informer)
Cardozo, which had not played in the championship game since 2007, had one of its best seasons in recent history with a 21-3 record.

The two had played one another on Jan. 29 and it was a close game through the first half as only three points separated the two at halftime.  That is when the Tigers used a 13-2 blitz to start the third quarter to pull away to a 76-59 win at Cardozo.

The return match was almost Deja vu:  The Clerks had taken a 25-24 lead on a three-pointer at the buzzer at halftime by sophomore sharpshooter Wisdom Carter (12 points).

Joel Young, a talented junior point guard, led his team with 16 points before suffering from a concussion early in the fourth quarter.  

And just as was the case in the regular season matchup, Jackson-Reed again flexed and went on an 11-0 run in the third period, and again Cardozo had no answer as the Tigers went on to win 66-52, capturing their fifth title in seven seasons before a near capacity crowd at the Frank Williams Gymnasium on the campus of Calvin Coolidge High School.

Jackson-Reed changed its strategy and employed a full court zone press that disrupted the Clerks and forced Cardozo Head Coach Omar Fox to call two timeouts to settle his team.  Many of the Tiger’s baskets came on thunderous dunks following Cardozo turnovers and leak outs. Junior forward Jadyn Fort (19 points), junior guard Josiah Massaqoui or senior guard Lucas Sekasi took turns attacking the basket. For good measure, senior Joe McRae, who has been a point guard with the team for three years, rebounded from a listless first half to score.

“I think they woke up at halftime, thinking about what happened last year,” said Jackson-Reed Coach David “Tee” Johnson. “That loss to Bard (in the semifinals) has been a motivator for them all season.  You could see the sense of urgency with the seniors like Joe.”

While Fort, a 6-8 junior forward and McRae (10 points in the second half) combined to do damage, it was the surprise play of Massaqoui that proved to be the difference.  A 6-5 junior, Massaqoui finished with 16 points, 12 in the second half made on power moves and putbacks.

“I know that they are a little disappointed right now, but it’s part of the process,” remarked Fox, the 2023-24 Coach of the Year on the experience for his team.  “We have to learn from this and build on what we have accomplished.”

This is Fox’s second season with the program.

Both teams await the pairings of the DCSAA tournament which gets underway on Feb. 28.  The Tigers are not satisfied with the DCIAA title.  With all their success, the Tigers have only one title and that was in 2019.

“We’re going to try to find the balance between keeping our guys as fresh as possible while also keeping them focused,” Johnson said. “We want to be locked in.”

Source: Washington Informer

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast is back for its highly anticipated second season, premiering on WGN TV Chicago on April...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black culture from around the globe, announces the launch of kweliFUND, a groundbreaking crowdfunding platform designed...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts filled the seats of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players such as Serena and Venus Williams and Zina Garrison to Naomi Osaki, Sloane Stephens, Ora Washington...

Davey Yarborough honored at Duke Ellington’s 125th birthday concert

As a celebrated musician and arts educator, still making strides in teaching jazz to young musicians, Davey Yarborough, will be honored during “Ellington at...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players...

Newsletter

Don't miss

“The Morning Roast” With Cast of Professional Black Men Launches Season 2 in Major TV Markets

Nationwide — Live from the Cave: The Morning Roast...

Founder of Black Woman-Owned Streaming Service Launches Platform to Fund Stories Told by Black Creators

Nationwide — kweliTV, the premier streaming service celebrating Black...

Hip-hop and jazz festival at Kennedy center features hip-hop royalty

A standing-room-only, sold-out throng of hip-hop and jazz enthusiasts...

Imani Jean: Freshman standout achieves early success at Howard

From the late Althea Gibson to retired legendary players...