Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

WASHINGTON D.C. – After coming up short in the 2018 Washington Catholics Athletic Conference championship,Gonzaga College High School junior Terrance William and senior Anwar Gill told their teammates and head coach Steve Turner all season that they’ll be back to make up for that letdown.

“Everybody was counting us out at the beginning of the season,” Gill said, ” We got the W and it just feels good.”

Monday night, Williams and Gill fulfilled their promise and led the Purple Eagles to a 60-56 win over St. John’s College High School. Williams scored a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, Gill followed up with 19 points and eight rebounds, and junior Myles Stute put up 10 points and eight rebounds. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell(19 points), Darius Maddox(14 points), and Ishmael Leggett(11 points).

” They’ve been dying for this,” Turner said of his championship squad, “This has been all they’ve talked about since the day we lost here last year at the same time. They worked their tails off. We’ve had some ups and downs and when it mattered most, this team bonded at the right time to make it happen for them to stand here tonight as WCAC champions.”

If you followed the WCAC all season, you know that these two programs being in the championship was a shocker. Gonzaga hit bottom when they lost to PVI, 69-44, but ended the conference and regular season winning 14 of their next 15 games. St. John’s themselves had some tough moment collapsing late in games, including losing to PVI and Baltimore Polytechnic in buzzer-beating fashion. They changed things around on an early season 10-game winning streak but they ended up losing four of their final seven regular season games to PVI twice and DeMatha and Gonzaga as well. However, three of the losses came to DeMatha, Gonzaga, and PVI at a combined 14-points, and looked to be playing their best basketball despite the losses.

Gonzaga and St. John’s came out trading buckets from the opening tip, until the Purple Eagles went off on an 11-0 run, with Williams scoring nine of those points, including back to back turn-around jumpers. Gonzaga turned an 18-9 lead into a 13-point lead after a Williams reverse layup gave the Purple Eagles a 28-16 advantage. St. John’s refused to give in and cut the lead to 29-22 after Morsell nailed a 3-pointer, but Stute came back with a tip-in and gave Gonzaga a nine-point lead going into the second half.

The Cadets were able to cut their deficit to seven points once again after going on a 9-2 run at the free-throw during a sloppy third quarter where St. John’s got a 10-2 advantage in team fouls. The Cadets and Gonzaga went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. The Purple Eagles built a 12-point lead when Stute corralled an offensive rebound and put it back up to make 51-39, Gonzaga. The Cadets responded with a 9-0 run, cutting the lead to 55-53 when Leggett knocked a 3-pointer to make the score 51-48 midway through the final frame. Gill came back down after a timeout laying the ball up on end and stripping Casey Morsell and throwing down a dunk in the subsequent possession to make it 55-48. John “Manzie” Wilson then connected with Morsell for a timely 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 30 seconds left in the game, but Williams was able to close the game out at the free-throw line, knocking five down.

“It’s a great moment,” Williams said, ” You know close throughout the game, solidifying the championship win, live for moments like that.”

St. John’s Stuns Defending WCAC Champs DeMatha

Darius Maddox told me post game ” odds against us I just knew we were gonna go out there and fight,” with Ish Leggett adding ” It’s that simple.” SJC is coming in primed with confidence and playing some great basketball ahead of tomorrow’s WCAC chip’ game

WASHINGTON D.C. – The WCAC descended once again on American University for their annual playoff to determine their conference champion this past weekend. After a long regular season, the final four teams remaining were DeMatha Catholic High School, Paul VI Catholic High School, Gonzaga College High School, and St. John’s College High School. The winners of these two games will advance to play for the championship on Monday.

The first game went down between number 1 seed of the tournament DeMatha, also the defending WCAC champs, and number 5 seed St. John’s. The Cadets secured the first spot in the WCAC championship game, upsetting the Stags 53-52. Forward Earl Timberlake led all scorers with 19 poins, and guard Justin Moore followed up with 15 points of his own. Guard Casey Morsell led three double-digit performance with 16 points, while Darius Maddox and Ishmael Leggett contributed with 12 points apiece.

“Definitely just coming out with energy, just coming out ready to kill,” Maddox said, “When I’m down then Ish is up, so we always got someone coming. Then when we’re both down then Casey is up so you never knew where it’s coming from.”

From the onset, the Cadets were able to throw the first punch. St. John’s was often the more physical squad, and made sure to force contested rebounds, catches, and shots. According to junior wings Darius Maddox and Ishmael Leggett, the Cadets took pride in being the underdog and coming out to fight, not just taking a punch to the mouth but landing frequent counters as well. The game was close throughout the contest, the largest lead of the night was the Stags by six, while the Cadets lead by a 4-point margin. The Cadets were able to grab the lead three times in the fourth quarter, after a Morsell layup to make it 41-40, and then off a forward Jalin Abbott 3-pointer off a Morsell pass in the pick-and-roll. The Stags responded swifty and took the lead off a Timberlake tip-in. The Cadets then reeled off a 7-0 run and grabbed a 51-47 lead they would not surrender when Maddox converted on an and-1 over center Hunter Dickinson. Timberlake cut the lead too 53-52 with a 3-pointer at the top of the key, responding to a  Morsell pull-up jumper from the free throw line. SJC had two chances to ice the game with less 30 seconds remaining with both Morsell and Abbott at the free throw line but both the seniors missed the front end of a one-in-one opportunity. DeMatha had one last chance to win the game, getting the ball to Moore who drove strong to the rim but Morsell leaped high in the air and swatted the would-be attempt way, sending Bender Arena in a frenzy and making sure a new champ would be crowned.

“We knew (Moore) was going to it,” Morsell said, “ We tried to make it as hard for him as possible, if he was going to shoot it, make him shoot going left. He’s shooting a way lower percentage going left than right. Forced him to my help side, I knew he was not going to pass it so that is why I went up to get it.”  

“Just a (wave) of happiness,” Leggett said, ” We been struggling throughout the season and all that hard work paid off that nobody saw it showed on the court today.”

Trevor Keels Rips the Cadets Hearts Out Late In a WCAC Classic

Washington D.C ~ With just 3.3 seconds left and PVI down 60-58, Trevor Keels and Panthers teammates had all the confidence in the world that they would make the game-winning shot and steal one from St. John’s on Military Road.

“I knew I was going to hit the shot,” Keels said, “I had confidence in it. My team believed in it, I told them the games not over it.”

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PVI stole a key WCAC win over St. John’s, 61-60 to extend their conference win streak to 32 wins. Keels finished the contest with 24-points and Dug McDaniel contributed 15-points. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell who scored a game-high 29-points. Ishmael Leggett joined him in double-figures with 14-points.

“They just don’t want to give that up,” PVI head coach Glen Farello said smiling and on the steak, “I thought we fought the whole game and Trevor kinda willed willed that shot in.”

It was a back-and-forth affair between the Cadets and Panthers. The Cadets held the lead for the majority contest, only facing a deficit twice. The game was tied up only three times as well. The largest lead of the night was just nine points after Casey Morsell dished an assist for a John Wilson layup to make it 23-14 early in the second quarter. Despite the adversity throughout the afternoon, the Panthers continued to dig and dig away at leads. Through the patient and poised play of Dug McDaniel, and the constant battering ram forays of Trevor Keels was all the offense PVI needed.

“Just pick up the slack,” McDaniel said on his role, “And just lead the team.”

The Panthers never gave up throughout the afternoon, and when Josiah Freeman implored to Keels to takeover late in the second half, that’s exactly what he did. In fact, he scored 17 of his 24 alone. That’s with Keels being blanketed by Morsell, one of the best on-ball defenders in the DMV. It was also Freeman that initiated the final exciting sequence of the game. The junior guard nailed a pair of free throws to tie it at 58-all after Morsell turned the ball over on the baseline with 29 seconds left. Casey Morsell patiently dribbled the clock down until nearly eight seconds were left on the game clock until he attacked the rim. He easily shed the defense of Trevor Keels off and extended for a left handed layup over the outstretched hands of Josh Oduro.

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The late bucket left 3.3 seconds on the clock and enough time for PVI and Trevor Keels to get a potential game-winner off. The Panthers subsequently dropped the pass off the Keels who ran to the right side of the court and put up a near half-court shot that hit nothing but net. Dagger! Effectively ripping the Cadets hearts out and making a meal out of it.

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The Cadets play Bishop Ireton and the The Heights this coming next, while the Panthers play DeMatha, McNamara, O’Connell, and Good Council.

SJC Takes Down Prep

Casey Morsell Leads The Way Against Prep

Rockville ~ With just under a minute to go in the first quarter, Casey Morsell waived off a set play and put down a 3-pointer over the outstretched Miles Somerville, giving St. John’s a 20-4 lead and summing up a strong night not just for UVA-commit but his 18th birthday as well. 

“It was great man,” Morsell said, “Nothing better than having a good game on your birthday.”

The Cadets beat Georgetown Prep at the seventh annual Shepherd Foundation Hoops Classic, 80-54, avenging last seasons 59-58 loss. Morsell led the Cadets with 18-points with John Wilson and Darius Maddox joining him in double-figures with 15 and 13-points of their own. Kamdyn Curfman scored a game-high 24-point performance. Zion Russell and Miles Somerville complemented him with 11 and 10 points apiece. 

“Today was just a day where I got downhill,” Wilson said, “I saw opportunities for myself and other players to get them open shots .” 

After an explosive start to the game, St. John’s was able to push the lead to 17 before Curfman sparked an 8-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer that made it 23-14 just moments into the second period. Just as momentum was swinging, Little Hoyas head coach took Curfman out of the game, leading to the Cadets responding with their one 8-0 run, creating a 31-14 lead that was punctuated by a Morsell steal and dunk, exclaiming his emotions on the way down the court. 

“I guess I’m showing my emotions more which can be a good thing or a bad thing.” Morsell said, “I’ve always had a high level of passion and love for the game. I don’t know it’s just me being me”

From there on, the Cadets would lay it on the Little Hoyas, leading by as many as 24-points after John Wilson canned a pair of free throws to make 51-21 early in the second half. Morsell even hit a turnaround jumper on the left side of the court, emphasizing a night where just about everything went right for them offensively and defensively. It was the type of overwhelming performance that the Cadets needed heading into the meat of their conference schedule first facing Bishop Ireton on Friday. Prep will look to bounce back versus Flint Hill on Saturday. 

Baltimore Poly Takes St. John’s Down In Epic Thriller

Washington D.C. ~ Simply heartbreak. That was what Baltimore Polytechnic came in to deliver during their trip to the nations capital. The Engineers were already playing with something to prove, fully aware of the perception that Baltimore players do not stack up to the elite talent that the Washington D.C. metropolitan produces. The Engineers knew that a capturing signature win over a top 50 program like St. John’s College High School would make a very loud statement. The type of statement that can put Baltimore on the map as a hoops hotbed.

“This was for Baltimore,” Poly head coach Sam Brand said, “We heard a lot of talk about how Baltimore teams can’t compete down here and we know that we can. We embraced the opportunity to do so.”

The Engineers prevailed in overtime, 59-58, in the main event of the More Than Basketball St. John’s Invitational. Justin Lewis scored 16-points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Rahim Ali scored 15-points, dished a pair of assists, and grabbed six rebounds. The Cadets were led by a 20-point performance by Casey Morsell. Jalin Abbott and Ishmael Leggett joined Morsell in double-figures with 14 and 13

points respectively.

” We came in the game with a chip on our shoulder,” Ali said, “They’re a top-50 team in the country and that’s where we want to be.”

Through each bucket exchanged and every bit of trash talk spoken neither the Engineers nor the Cadets allowed themselves to lie down without a fight. That competitiveness and desire to win helped the Cadets erase an 11-point deficit on the strength of a 14-5 run in the third quarter that culminated in a 40-all tie after a Devon Dunn spin layup in transition. After a scoring drought that lasted nearly three minutes, Casey Morsell went on a personal 5-0 run to end the quarter to grab a 44-43 lead heading into the final frame. From there the Cadets would be lead by as much as five before the Engineers took the lead back when Justin Lewis sank a pair of free throws to create a one-point lead in the waning minutes of the game. Jalin Abbott than forced a Poly timeout when he hit a dagger 3-pointer to give his Cadets squad a 54-51 lead. Ali responded when he went the full length of the court and sank a sidestep 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Morsell to force an extra period.

The overtime period provided some more fireworks from two proud programs. Ian Wallace scorched the nets late with a 3-pointer for a 57-56 lead, seemingly burying the Cadets after Morsell missed on a contested jumper, and John Wilson turned the ball after stepping out of bounds on the baseline. Poly than gave St. John’s after Lewis turned the ball over trying to inbound the ball and inadvertently set up the thrilling final sequence after Morsell scored on a tough layup with the clock dwindling down fast. Ali would coolly go the length of the full-court with untouched before hop-stepping and sinking a reverse layup to win the game.

“I just had to feed off my team,” Ali said, ” I had to know when to go and when to feed my team. I had to feed Justin (because) he was cooking. When they started double-teaming him I knew more was going to be open for me so I just took the shots that were open.