"It's All About The Game"

DCSAA semis are an up and down affair







Ron Bailey, Publisher

DCSAA finals are set; some schools are happy, some are not.

March 4, 2014 - Monday's inclement weather didn't stop the DCSAA basketball semifinals. It might have been raining then snowing outside, but American University's Bender Arena was packed with fans rooting for eight boys and girls teams participating.

The night's best game was Theodore Roosevelt's 84-77 victory over St. John's College Prep. A proxy for the now defunct City Title game pitting the DCIAA and WCAC, Roosevelt used a basic basketball skill in winning; effort.

'We came out and we were the underdog. We knew we had to come out and play Roosevelt Basketball" said senior guard Troy Stancil of TR, the DCIAA champ's play. SJC's senior guard Trey Campbell acknowledged the different level of effort demonstrated, saying "They just wanted it more than us".

Johnnie Shuler led Roosevelt to victory.

Several late game plays demonstrated TR's desire: With a minute, 59 seconds left in regulation, senior point guard Johnnie Shuler was felled by an ankle injury, action went on but his teammates got a stop playing four on five. Around thirty seconds later Shuler missed a second free throw, senior guard Jarell Allen hustled and retained possession for TR. Almost a minute afterward, Allen missed two consecutive free throws, secured the second miss, was fouled and canned the subsequent two charity stripers.

SJC, would make a comeback, down 14 in the third quarter, utilizing a press. Senior forward James Palmer (20 points) scored with under a minute to play, but the Cadets would get no further.

"It kind of got to us a little bit" admitted Stancil of SJC's defense, one that was a diamond at times. "Our coaches told us to settle down", which they ultimately did.

The victors ended up shooting 65.2% overall, and 5-7 from three point land (71.4%). SJC took twice as many three pointers, yet only sank them at 35.7%. For the game, they shot 57.7%.

Roosevelt, now 24-6 on the year, saw senior forward Jabreel Faulkner lead all scorers with 22 points, Shuler provided 20, Stancil 14 and junior forward Dieon Haynes scored 13 points. Both he and Stancil paced the game with six rebounds. Cleaning the glass was big for TR, who doubled SJC's total of 14.

Senior forward Mike Morsell and sophomore guard Anthony Cowan, Jr, both scored 16 points for SJC, now 27-4. The Cadets also received double figure scoring from sophomore guard Dejuan Clayton with 10 points.

The first boy's semi was not as exciting, as Cesar Chavez never got on track, falling to Maret (22-7), 79-40. It was one of those days for Chavez.

"We are a team of guards, and we need to make shots" said Chavez' head coach Malcolm Battle on his team's struggles. "You see shots go in and out, it takes the life out of you".

The Eagles saw 11 shots literally rim in and out by midway through the second quarter, a trend that continued throughout. Battle labeled it "Our worst shooting night in two years". For the game they shot 18.6% to Maret's 62%.

Senior Maret point guard Drake Goddard saw the deflation, noting "They're a really good shooting team. The first time we played them(a Maret win on 12.26.13), they hit maybe 15 threes or so. Today they were just off and that was good for us".

That previous experience also steeled Maret, MAC champs, for Chavez' usually daunting press. Monday it was broken regularly, with Goddard triggering his team's success.
"We really worked on it in practice" he said, later noting of his personal work against the pressure "I think my patience just comes with experience. Being a senior really helps me a lot. I've seen a lot of different defenses playing a lot of different basketball. So I think my experience helped".

So did Maret's rebounding advantage - 46 to 23 - and assist lead (10-3). Goddard led all assisters with three, also adding 12 points. Two of his teammates logged double digit rebounds - Junior forward Austin Vereen and classmate/guard Alex Pettier, with 13 and 12, to go along with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Senior guard Steff Davis led all scorers via 18 points.

Chavez's Thompson Twins paced the team, dropping 14 (Tyler) and 11 (Triston). Their fellow senior, forward Chris Baez pulled down six points for Battle's squad, who has no reason to hand their heads despite their final game's outcome.

"We were runner-up in the Gonzaga Classic, made the final four of the DC State Association, beat two nationally ranked teams (Lexington-Lafayette and John Carroll)" recounted Battle afterward, proud of his team's accomplishments yet clearly dealing with a bitter loss. "We won our regular season title and our conference tournament (PCSAA). Finished 25-7 and played five nationally ranked teams".

Also going home were two girls teams, Wilson (21-8) and National Cathedral (17-5). The former fell to St. John's (24-7) by 61-29, the latter suffered a 63-49 defeat to National Visitation (27-3).

Tomorrow's finals at Verizon Center are set: St. Johns vs. National Visitation at 6p in girls action. The boys tilt, a Roosevelt - Maret tilt, will tip around 7:45p.

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