In battle of arch-rivals, Gonzaga edges St. John’s for WCAC boys’ basketball title
Mar 5, 2019
Gonzaga College High School of Washington, D.C., defeated arch-rival St. John’s College High School, 60-56 to claim the 2019 boys’ basketball championship for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference on Feb. 25 at American University’s Bender Arena.
It was the Purple Eagles’ third title in the past five seasons – they also won championships in 2015 and 2017.
Gonzaga improved to 27-6 overall (18-5 WCAC regular/post-season and 9-1 in non-league games).
St. John’s dropped to 23-10 overall (15-8 WCAC regular/post-season and 8-2 in non-league games).
Before a full house, the Cadets took early leads of 7-5 and 9-7.
Those would prove to be the only two leads that St. John’s would have all game long.
Gonzaga went on a game-changing 11-1 run thereafter to take a substantial 18-9 lead as the first quarter concluded.
Eagles’ junior Terrance Williams accounted for nine of the 11.
Williams noted afterward, "We weren't even suppose to be here for this game.”
Gonzaga, with a 15-5 regular season WCAC record, was the third-seed behind co-regular-season champions DeMatha and Paul VI, both at 18-2.
Gonzaga also led 31-22 at intermission and 44-37 as the third quarter concluded.
In the fourth quarter, St. John’s made a serious charge.
The Cadets narrowed their deficit to 51-48 (3:43) following three consecutive treys by Darius Maddox, Casey Morsell and Ishmael Leggett.
They also narrowed their deficit to 55-53 with 49 seconds remaining on another Morsell trey, as well as 58-56 with 2.9 seconds to go, after a free throw by Morsell.
But Gonzaga's Terrance Williams was immediately fouled upon receiving the inbounds pass and proceeded to knock down both free throws for the final score of 60-56.
It was the Eagles’ eighth overall title. DeMatha since 1961 has claimed 40 of them, and St. John’s has claimed four previous titles.
Stated a jubilant Williams,"I want to thank all of my teammates – I couldn't have done it without them.”
Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner told the Washington Post, "It's been a rocky road...we started off with a lot of injuries, tough losses. It was tough when we had guys out [earlier in season] and here – down the stretch we found our ‘mojo’ when it mattered the most.”
Gonzaga was paced by junior Williams (20 points), senior Anwar Gill (19), junior Myles Stute (10/10 rebounds), senior Josh Watts (seven), junior Chuck Harris and sophomore Malcolm Dread (two each).
Stated Stute regarding his team leading rebounds, "It's about the hunger and the desire to get to the ball.”
St. John’s was paced by senior Morsell (19), junior Leggett (13), junior Maddox (12), junior John Wilson (four/seven rebounds), sophomore Devon Savage (four), senior Jalin Abbott and junior John Square (two each).
The championship game’s team statistics reflected its hard-fought nature. Gonzaga pulled down 23 rebounds, while St. John’s had 22. Gonzaga hit 10 of 12 free throws, while St. John’s made 12 of 16. Gonzaga hit two treys, with St. John’s hitting eight.
Both teams should be strong in the 2019-20 seaons, as will a number of others in the always competitive WCAC.
The WCAC All-League selections for boys’ basketball selected by the coaches included:
Boys’ Coach of the Year: Paul VI's Glenn Farello.
Boys’ Players of the Year: St. John's Casey Morsell, DeMatha's Justin Moore and Paul VI's Trevor Keels.
Boys’ First-Team: Gonzaga's Terrance Williams; DeMatha's Hunter Dickinson and Earl Timberlake; McNamara's Mehki Long and Paul VI's Dug McDaniel.
Boys’ Second-Team: Gonzaga's Anwar Gill; St. John's Ishmael Leggett and Darius Maddox; DeMatha's Jahmir Young; Bishop Ireton's Ethan Lynch; Bishop O'Connell's Charlie Weber and Paul VI's Josiah Freeman and Josh Oduro.
The latest local and global Catholic news delivered to your inbox.