Bolstered by strong defensive play, DeMatha defeated Paul VI, 70-56, to claim the 2019-20 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys basketball title, the 41st overall title in that sport for the all-boys' Catholic high school in Hyattsville, Maryland, that is sponsored by the Trinitarians.
The WCAC girls/boys basketball title doubleheaders were played Feb. 24 at American University.
DeMatha's Stags improved to 30-3 overall (22-1 WCAC), and the boys' basketball team from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, dropped to 23-8 (18-5).
Midway through the first quarter, DeMatha's Jordan Hawkins knocked down a trey to propel the Stags to a 13-10 lead and thereafter DeMatha never looked back. (The Panthers never led in the 32-minute affair. There were two ties: 8-8 and 10-10).
The Stags led 20-12, 34-29 and 49-41 at the conclusions of the first, second and third quarters respectively.
In the fourth quarter, Paul VI trimmed their deficit to 53-50 following a Jeremy Roach layup, but they would get no closer.
From that juncture, DeMatha outscored their rivals 17-6 to claim their second title in the past three seasons.
"It feels great to win this. Paul VI is a great team. Tonight, we made enough plays [to prevail]" stated DeMatha head coach Mike Jones, who gained his 500th career victory with the championship win.
Jones, a 1992 graduate of DeMatha in his 18th year as varsity basketball coach there, added, “I don't want this to be about me."
DeMatha was paced by: Earl Timberlake, Jr. (19 points/8 rebounds), Jordan Hawkins (17/4), Elijah Hawkins (12/8), Hunter Dickinson (10/6), Tyrell Ward (four points) and two points apiece for Jacoi Hutchinson, Donovan Miller, Anthony Perry and Will Reynolds.
Regarding three-year starter Timberlake, Jones commented, "Earl is the best defender in high school basketball."
Timberlake noted after the game - "This [championship] is what we've been working for - this is everything that we have been working for."
Paul VI was paced by: Jeremy Roach (24), Trevor Keels (20) and six apiece for Knasir McDaniel and Tyler Coleman.
In between the first and second quarters, there was a 60 second tribute to the late DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten, who died on Jan. 21 at the age of 88. Wootten coached DeMatha's varsity basketball team from 1956 to 2002, leading his teams to 1,274 victories, five national high school championships, 22 city titles and 33 WCAC championships. In 2000, Wootten became the first high school coach inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dickerson, the WCAC Player of the Year, commented afterward, "Coach is DeMatha. To win this for him tonight is very special."
DeMatha's 70 points included 8 three-point shots, 12 baskets and 22 of 27 free throws.
Paul VI's 56 points included 2 treys, 19 baskets and 12 of 16 free throws.
The Stags players had 29 rebounds and made nine turnovers, while the Panthers had 21 rebounds and seven turnovers.
In the semifinals, DeMatha defeated St. Johns, 63-50. The Cadets led the Stags on nine different occasions in the first quarter. However, the Stags led the Cadets the entire second half.
Also in the semifinals, Paul VI defeated Gonzaga, 74-63. The game was tied 47-47 late in the third quarter. Thereafter, the Panthers outscored the Eagles 27-16 to punch their ticket to the championship game.
DeMatha only lost one game to a local team (Paul VI) and lost two out of state affairs, one to a Kansas power and one to a Florida power.
The Stags will compete in the prestigious Alhambra Classic in the month of March and will also return a number of key players for next season.
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