"It's All About The Game"
Motivated Panthers get 'chip
Ron Bailey, Publisher
Paul VI is this year's boys WCAC champ.
February 27, 2014 - After Paul VI's (VA) 56-37, Washington Catholic Athletic Association, championship game win over DeMatha (MD) Tuesday night, their fans stormed the court, both student and adults. American University's Bender Arena became a Panther celebration.
Below the usual and obvious motivation for winning - it's what all teams aspire to do in their leagues and beyond, the reason the game is played - Paul VI's guys were driven to prevail by something else.
That's Evan Taylor, attacking the tin.
"We didn't want Evan (Taylor) to have the same feeling Jamal (Robinson) had when he left out of here" said Derrickson amongst the din of supporters congregating on the arena's floor. "So we wanted to give it all for Evan".
That would be the team's lone remaining senior, Evan Taylor (Quadree Smith transferred to Potomac). Robinson, now a freshman at Hofstra and his teammates had to deal with arch rival Bishop O'Connell being crowned champion last season.
"They've been fighting for me all year. We've been fighting for each other" remarked Taylor, holding the winners trophy. "This is my last year, I'm the only senior on this team. So they were like 'We're going to win it for you', because they know how I wanted it, how much we wanted it as a team".
Taylor, playing both guard positions finished with 12 points. Junior guard/forward Josh Reaves led all scorers with 19 points. Sophomore big man Corey Manigault logged nine points for PVI, 26-6 overall after the victory, 14-4 in WCAC action.
The Panthers, leading 26-19 at intermission, took the floor and blew the game open after halftime, causing DeMatha to change defensive focus; the Stags redoubled their transition defense efforts - a number of fast breaks were surrendered - and started to defend on ball and the first pass more aggressively.
Of the man to man scheme adjustment, junior DeMatha guard Terrell Allen noted "We needed to pick it up because we were down by too much to sit back" and that head coach Mike Jones "told us to push up".
In large part due to those efforts, DeMatha was eventually only outscored by three in the third quarter, but were bested 17-8 during the fourth. Part of that was intentional late game fouling, the other PVI's depth. Derrickson noted of the latter "We can go as hard as we can on the court, and know somebody is going to come in and give good minutes".
More wind behind PVI's sails was keeping up with the Jones'; the schools girls team secured their own WCAC title before the boy's game, defeating St. John's 57-54. For the record, that was the first time a school's girls and boys secured a league tourney crown the same year.
"It's a great feeling. We saw them get one and it just motivated us" shared junior forward Marcus Derrickson. "Why couldn't we too? Why not us too?".
Add last year's semi-final loss to the mix, as Derrickson relayed "That loss hurt. We worked all off season, all preseason for that".
DeMatha, 27-4/15-3 afterward the contest got 11 points from sophomore forward Joe Hampton, six via Allen, while sophomore Reggie Gardner, Jr. tallied five points as did junior forward Jaelin Grant.
Allen's take on why the Stags lost: "They were just playing harder than us. We can't do that. That's what it all came down to, for real".
Derrickson revealed from a general perspective "We knew Joe and (freshman DJ) Harvey are a good five, four combination. So we wanted to make their guards beat us...We knew our guards could win the day".
Largely though, he ascribed the win to " My teammates help me and I help them. We've got brotherly love on this team and we are going to continue to look for each other".
That unity has produced a 'chip.
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