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.”

Gonzaga Dispatches DeMatha

By: Brooks Warren

Follow @_bwarren on Twitter

Washington D.C ~ It was the perfect exclamation point to end the game on. Senior Anwar Gill corralled a DeMatha Catholic miss and took one dribble before flicking a outlet pass to Terrance Williams. The junior forward threw down the two-hand hammer and stared down Carsten Kolgenik in celebration.

“It was a good pass from Anwar,” Williams said, “ I just found an open spot on the (floor) to get it and I just finished it.”

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The 65-58 Gonzaga victory was a full on battle. Both teams traded punches but Gonzaga landed the final one to secure their 10th win a row and first over DeMatha since losing to the Stags in last seasons WCAC championship game. The Eagles were led by a quartet of double-figure scorers. Williams scores a team-high 19 points while junior forward Myles Stute followed that up with 18 of of his. Junior guard Chuck Harris, who missed the first go around, and freshman point guard Devin Dinkins both contributed 10 points apiece. Earl Timberlake dropped 20 points Friday night, Hunter Dickinson handed out 13 of his own, followed up by a 10 point outing by Josh Wallace.

“You already know it’s going to be a big game, high intensity crowd,” Harris said in reference to the rivalry, “We owe these guys since they beat us at home.”

“I’ve been waiting to play these dudes,” Harris said since playing against DeMatha for the first time since last season, “Missing the first was alright but I had to come (to Carmody Center) and play my hardest.”

Gonzaga threw the first haymaker building up a seven point 19-12 advantage. The lead was created by the play of Dinkins and Williams. The freshman guard nailed a three pointer the top of the key followed by a Williams layup layup, then Gill nearly had the play of the night when he had a chase down block against Timberlake that brought the crowd to its feet. The Stags responded with a 7-0 run that gave them a 20-19 lead in the closing seconds of the first half. It was back-to-back layups from Wallace and Timberlake, and a pair of free throws from senior point guard Jahmir Young that highlighted the lead change. Just shortly before the buzzer went off Young went down with a leg injury and didn’t come back in the second half.

“Team effort”, Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner said, ” Only way you’re going to beat time like that is you got to have everyone dialed in and playing their part.”

The Eagles were more or less head to head throughout the third frame, with the Stags holding the lead, 28-23, after back-to-back 3-pointers from Timberlake. Dickinson created more of a cushion when he dropped a baseline jumper and went to work on the right block. The Eagles responded with a seven point spurt off the back of a Harris 3-pointer and free throws, then a Williams one legged fade-away to help Gonzaga to a 35-34 lead going into the final frame.

Following an 8-0 run powered by a Gill three ball, a Stute tip-in, and another 3-pointer by Stute, the Eagles grabbed a 46-41 lead and never looked back. In fact, Stute played out of his mind, scoring an incredible 14 points in the fourth quarter. Gonzaga build a lead as large as nine points, 57-48, after Stute nailed two more 3-pointers and flexed as the home crowd went wild. Williams then hit a step-back jumper over Dickinson then Stute blocked a layup attempt from Timberlake. The Stags cut the lead to 59-54 after successive layups from Wallace and then Kolgenik. Wallace was able to cut into lead once more after another pair of free throws and a point blank tip in but it wouldn’t be enough as Dinkins iced the game from the free throw lane.

“I was just playing, wasn’t thinking,” Stute said, “I was out there on the court just trying to give the best effort for my team. Play for my dogs and, I mean when the ball came to me I just shot my shot and it went in.”

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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.

DeMatha Outlasts Gonzaga

Hyattsville ~ For the first time since the 2018 WCAC championship, DeMatha and Gonzaga, two proud teams with plenty of rich tradition and history met for the first time this season. For Gonzaga, it was a chance to exact some revenge and gain a little redemption from last years defeat. The storyline for DeMatha -ad the defending championship team was letting everyone know that the conference runs through them. 

“Just try to come and make a statement,” Jahmir Young said, “We know we gotta (target) on our back so we gotta come ready to play.”

DeMatha reigned supreme over Gonzaga,62-58, in arguably the fiercest rivalry in the WCAC. The Stags relied on balance offensively with four players scoring in double-figures. Justin Moore led the way with 13-points, Jahmir Young and Earl Timberlake had 12-points apiece, and Hunter Dickinson dropped 11-points of his own. The Purple Eagles also had a trio of double-digit performers on their side. Anwar Gill and Myles Stute tied for team lead with 11-points, while Josh Watt flanked them with 10-points of his own. 

“We pride ourselves (on) being team guys and making sure everyone gets part of the share,” Moore said, “When we move the ball, and play together we’re a hard team to stop.”

After a free flowing first quarter where DeMatha and Gonzaga combined for 47 points, the two teams knew they had to settle in defensively. Getting a bucket was increasingly difficult the rest of the way during the decidedly defensive slugfest. For the Eagles, big man Terrance William (nine-points) was in foul trouble, forcing Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner to play with lineups that found it difficult to score the ball. The offensive futility was exasperated while DeMatha went on a 9-0 run, highlighted by a Earl Timberlake block on Stute and a forced shot-clock violations. Gonzaga was nearly blanked in the second quarter until Anwar Gill gathered an offensive rebound and laid it up to make it 33-27. Josh Watts then hit a 3-pointer off a John Marshall feed, and on the ensuing possession popped a trey of his own to make it a 36-33 game at the half.

“No defense in the first quarter though that was awful,” Stags head coach Mike Jones said candidly, “That was awful on both sides. 25-22 at a DeMatha-Gonzaga game? That never happens. 

Heading into the final frame after a back-and-forth third quarter, the Stags and Eagles were primed for a scintillating finish. After Stute gave Gonzaga a one-point edge after knocking down a pair of free throws, the Stags responded with a decisive an 8-0 run. Punctuated by a sequence where Carsten Kogelnik splashed home a 3-pointer, Justin Moore drew a charge on the subsequent possession, then Earl Timberlake capped it off with an up-and-under layup and gave the Stags a 54-46 lead they wouldn’t give up. With under 40 seconds to go, Turner decided to play the game straight up trying to avoid sending anybody to the line before Moore converted both free throws on his second trip to the line to give the Stags a 60-55 lead. The strategy shaved 14 seconds off the clock. The Eagles responded when freshman Devin Dinkins cashed a 3-ball off a dish from Stute to make it a 60-58 lead. That would be as close as the Eagles got, as Timberlake iced the game away with a pair of free throws to make up the final four-point deficit. 

“We’ve been doing a good job all year of just staying composed,” Moore said “We gotta do a (better) job of finishing games. We’ll get a lead up and we keep letting them come back and come back so we gotta put them away earlier.”

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.