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.”

Another Stunner! Gonzaga Upends PVI for Berth at the ‘Chip Versus SJC.

Another Stunner! @GonzagaHoops Upends PVI Thanks to @Cth23Chuck , @StuteMyles , @Devin2__ and @iamjodybreeze For A Chance At The WCAC ‘Chip vs @SJCBoysHoops

WASHINGTON D.C. – 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.

After a stunning () the crowd at AU was clamoring for the second game between no. 2 seed PVI and no. 3 seed Gonzaga. Gonzaga pulled off the second upset of the day, prevailing 63-55 and have the right to face off against SJC for the conference crowd. Junior Chuck Harris scored a game-high 17 points and handed out three assists, followed up by double-digit performances by forward Myles Stute(14 points and 12 rebounds), freshman Devin Dinkins (12 points), and senior Anwar Gill (10 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds). Freshman point guard Knasir “Dug” Williams led PVI with 12 points, while wing Josiah Freeman and sophomore Avery Ford each contributed 11 points.

“For our kids to gut out, we were down what, (13)? 13-point comeback to win against one of the best teams in the league all year,” Gonzaga head coach Stephen Turner said, “I’m just proud for them and their opportunity to go out tomorrow night and have a chance to bring home a championship.”

In any conference, it’s hard to beat any team three times in a row. In a conference like the WCAC, widely regarded as the best high school basketball conference in the country, it’s nearly impossible. However, PVI seemed like they would scoff at that notion, building a 13 point edge by the end of the half behind a balanced offensive onslaught, sophomores Avery Ford and  Trevor Keels dominated with 16 points at the half, relying on the physical drives of Keels and finesse of Ford to build their lead. A 3-2 zone that Gonzaga had trouble adjusting too also played a large roll in forcing the Purple Eagles were unable to execute as they traditionally do and the Panthers to walk into the half up 35-22.

That all changed in the second half when Gonzaga was able to neutralize the threat of Keels and forced everybody else to make plays. The revitalized defensive effort by Gonzaga forced PVI into scoring just 18 points the rest of the way. The Purple Eagles patiently chipped away at the deficit, being able to whittle down the lead to four by the end of the third quarter. By midway into the final frame, Gonzaga knotted the game up, 46-all, when Chuck Harris fed Dinkins on the left wing for a 3-pointer. That was the impetus to a 10-run that ended with three straight trips to the free throw line for Stute as he fought off PVI wings and forwards for several rebounds.  The gritty sequence by the junior provoked a smirk and flex moment as he soaked in cheers from the Gonzaga student section.

“Just felt good,” Stute said, “I was in my rhythm, affecting the game in different ways other than scoring, getting rebounds, getting to the line. When I got to the line, I knew I had to convert.”

PVI wasn’t done however, they went off on a 7-0 run and cut the Purple Eagles, 56-55, after Freeman nailed 3-pointer. That would be as close as PVI would get, Gonzaga ended the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run that ended all doubts for the Panthers. Harris finished a pair of three-point plays, smiling and letting out a loud “Let’s Go” after converting the second and-1. Forward Terrance Williams shot the final free throws of the game and secured the improbable Gonzaga win.

“ We just came out and played our hardest from the jump,” Harris said, “ We knew PVI was going to be a tough opponent and just had the best of them tonight.”

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.”