The Washington Post
Quakers pull away late, will face the Tigers again
Caleb Williams broke away from the press and dribbled into the open court, a wide stretch of nothing between him and the basket.
The mosh of Sidwell Friends students that had gathered inside Georgetown’s Mcdonough Arena gasped in anticipation. Open paths to the hoop had been few and far between in this tense, physical D.C. State Athletic Association semifinal between the Quakers and Gonzaga. Here, surely, was an opportunity for an easy and entertaining two points.
But the junior glanced up at the clock and pulled up just short of the lane, slowly backing away from the basket as if it were something dangerous. There were less than 10 seconds remaining in a 58-46 victory, and that desperate hunger for points was gone. The hard work had been done.
“Just a hard-fought game between two great programs,” sophomore guard Jalen RougierRoane said. “We respect each other a lot, and that usually just makes the game more intense.”
Friday’s victory sends Sidwell Friends to the DCSAA championship for the second year in a row and third time in the past four seasons. The Quakers will face Jackson-reed, which on Friday topped St. John’s, in Sunday’s championship. It will be a rematch of last year’s DCSAA final.
“Once you win this tournament once, you realize you’re one of the best teams in D.C. and you want to prove it over and over,” said Rougier-roane, who scored a game-high 18 points. “Once you get there, you feel like if you can’t get back it’s a failure.”
The Quakers entered this game looking to take an impressive season to another level after they won the Mid-atlantic Athletic Conference regular season and tournament. They doubled up with a state title last year, beating Jackson-reed in a wildly dramatic game.
In contrast, the Eagles arrived at this tournament looking to heal from a heartbreaking 54-53 loss to rival St. John’s in last weekend’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament.
The teams entered the semifinal with a similar intensity, trading baskets for the first three quarters. Early in the fourth, the game was tied at 44 — the seventh tie score on the night. It was then that Sidwell put its championship credentials on display, clamping down on the Eagles and getting out in transition to piece together a masterful 12-0 run.
“We felt pretty good offensively, going basket for basket,” Quakers Coach Eric Singletary said. “But I told them in the fourth that I wanted them to stick to the details of what we do and give me the best defensive quarter of the game.”
In the second semifinal of the night, Jackson-reed upset topseeded St. John’s, 66-63. The Cadets, fresh off a dramatic WCAC championship victory, were short two starters and couldn’t keep up with the energized Tigers.
Junior Robert Dockery and sophomore Jayden Fort scored 18 points apiece as Jackson-reed flew around the court from the opening whistle and led for most of the night.
The Cadets put together a late rally, cutting a 16-point deficit to a one-possession game in the closing seconds. But clutch free throws from Jackson-reed’s Marvin Brimage and Justin Gilmore sealed the win.
“Now we’re back where we started last year,” Tigers Coach David Johnson told his team after the game. “Let’s go finish the job for our Jackson-reed community.”