After pregame shoves, Ea­gles pull away for ti­tle


The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - BY DIL­LON MULLAN dil­lon.mullan@wash­

Well-ac­quainted foes locked eyes and threw down be­fore the ball was even live in Satur­day night’s Cap­i­tal Belt­way League fi­nal. Trash talk be­tween Na­tional Chris­tian and Rock Creek Chris­tian es­ca­lated into full-ex­ten­sion shoves, which forced the ref­er­ees to is­sue a well-earned dou­ble tech­ni­cal as the ri­vals lined up for the open­ing tip.

The ten­sion spilled over into a chaotic start as ev­ery dunk, re­bound and cross­over was punc­tu­ated with brash body lan­guage. Amid the full-speed melee, Na­tional Chris­tian found a way to har­ness its en­ergy to own the of­fen­sive glass and slice through the press.

With a hand­ful of high­light dunks, the Ea­gles beat down No. 3 Rock Creek Chris­tian in style for a 77-55 win at Prince Ge­orge’s Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

“We felt no pres­sure. From the be­gin­ning, we al­ready knew what we had to do. We played Rock Creek twice this year, and we lost,” se­nior for­ward Ter­rance Lewis said. “We wanted to come out to play the third time and make a state­ment.”

No. 3 Rock Creek Chris­tian (28-4) handed Na­tional Chris­tian (22-11) a pair of dou­ble-digit losses in the reg­u­lar sea­son. A sloppy start to the third matchup peaked mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, with the game tied at 20, when nei­ther team scored for 21/2 min­utes.

Then Na­tional Chris­tian ripped off a 10-0 run be­fore tak­ing a 34-23 half­time lead. Rock Creek Chris­tian at­tempted to climb back into the game with a full­court press, but its tried-and-trusted de­fense was con­sis­tently shred­ded for easy bas­kets.

“They were get­ting turnovers in the first games and noth­ing was go­ing our way,” said ju­nior Ma­lik Kennedy, who led all scor­ers with 27 points. “We kept calm tonight, and every­thing came into place.”

Rock Creek Chris­tian, which was led by 19 points from sopho­more guard Sherif Ken­ney, cut the deficit to seven points at the end of the third quar­ter but did not get any closer in the fourth. Lewis fin­ished with 15 points and 15 re­bounds as Na­tional Chris­tian mus­cled its way to a 49-30 ad­van­tage on the glass.

After a .500 record in the CBL reg­u­lar sea­son, Na­tional Chris­tian en­tered the play­offs as the No. 4 seed.

“When it came to the play­offs, we re­al­ized it’s one and done — if you lose, you’re out,” Kennedy said. “So we came to­gether as a team and said it’s not go­ing to go down like that.”

Be­fore Na­tional Chris­tian emp­tied its bench in the fi­nal min­utes, Lewis ended his high school ca­reer with one last put­back dunk. After an eight-point win over Riverdale Bap­tist on Fri­day, the Ea­gles re­peated as league cham­pi­ons with their most dom­i­nant per­for­mance of the sea­son.

“It feels great. Back-to-back championships,” Lewis said. “Put that down in his­tory. Just amaz­ing.”

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