Thursday, March 1, 2012


When Kendall Marshall and his fellow Tar Heels were thrashing the Terps last night, I took solace in memories of watching a crazily talented Bishop O'Connell team at Bender Arena several years ago. These same memories were triggered at Verizon Monday evening while celebrating Jason Clark's (and Henry Sims') Georgetown career, as the Hoyas took apart a Fighting Irish squad coached by a DeMatha alum and featuring Jerian Grant.

This is a great time of year to be a sports fan living in the D.C. metropolitan area, courtesy of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

With the Maryland women's basketball team hosting North Carolina on Friday night and Notre Dame visiting the Georgetown men on Monday night, a day spent watching either the quarterfinals or semifinals was the most I could push my luck at home. I opted for Saturday at Gallaudet University -- four games, eight teams, and incredible basketball talent on display.

Of the four games, only the third -- DeMatha versus Bishop O'Connell -- was non-competitive. Joe Wooten's kids got drubbed by a loaded Stags team. At one point during the game, Jerami Grant went to the baseline and spun from underneath the basket to slam the ball and I forced myself to remember that this was a high school game. A bit later, with DeMatha having sealed the game, O'Connell's sophomore reserve forward Jamall Gregory tomahawked a one-handed slam over a DeMatha player that riled the crowd.

In the final game, Bishop McNamara's perimeter shooting gave the Mustangs a lead over Gonzaga at halftime. Kris Jenkins, the WCAC player of the year, was as good as advertised and knocked down almost every open shot on offer. Gonzaga's talent -- and reigning WCAC Coach of the Year's Marty Keithline's less than encouraging screaming -- eventually overwhelmed McNamara.

The guard play throughout was fantastic. Gonzaga's Nate Britt, DeMatha's James Robinson, and Paul VI's Stanford Robinson are very, very good.

The other team to advance, St. John's, also featured an elite guard: sophomore Darian Anderson. And that was probably my biggest takeaway from the games: the kids are alright.

The sophomore class of the WCAC is exceptional. For significant stretches of the game against Archbishop Carroll, Allante Holston controlled the game. Along with Anderson and Holston, fellow sophomores Donald Campbell and James Mitchell saw extended playing time for the Cadets.

Good Counsel gave eventual WCAC champs Paul VI a bit of a scare in the second game, fueled by the play of three sophomore guards: Tre Thomas (with GC's students cheering "Tre Tre Redick" after every made three), Chris Craft Jr., and WCAC first-teamer Byron Hawkins.

Although falling short against DeMatha, Bishop O'Connell featured the third sophomore on the WCAC's first team (along with Anderson and Hawkins), Melo Trimble, starting alongside fellow sophomore Kamrin Moore, with a very athletic Jamall Gregory coming off the bench.

DeMatha and Gonzaga each had a sophomore pull significant playing time, 6'9" Brock Ruble and 6'7" Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof, respectively. Abdur-Ra'oof, in particular, was really impressive.

The future remains bright.

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