High School

DCSAA boys semi-finals preview: Wilson, Archbishop Carroll, Gonzaga, Coolidge fight for title

DCSAA boys semi-finals preview: Wilson, Archbishop Carroll, Gonzaga, Coolidge fight for title

The 2020 DCSAA boys state semi-finals tip-off Friday at 5 p.m. with a pair of games matching DCIAA contenders with WCAC foes. 

Here’s a breakdown of the match-ups:

No. 3 Wilson (23-4) vs. No. 10 Archbishop Carroll (19-14) 
Time: 5 p.m.

Archbishop Carroll is a 10-seed, but don’t be fooled — the seeding is not indicative as to how good this team actually is. Playing in the WCAC, one of the top conferences in the country, can wreak havoc on a team's win/loss record, while at the same time, prepare them for tournaments such as this one. 

The Lions roared past their first two opponents, defeating Maret 46-37 in the first round before convincingly beating DCIAA champion, two-seed Roosevelt Wednesday night. The final margin was 71-58, but the game was not as close as the score might indicate.

The Lions are a physical bunch; they play with size, length and depth. Tegra Izay and Kristopher King lead a group of bigs capable of dominating on both ends of the floor. Defensively, they serve as adequate rim protectors while on offense, they do a stellar job finishing at the rim. Guard Cory Barnes is capable of getting hot at any moment and if Rob Lawson can continue to give the Lions quality minutes, Carroll will be difficult for anyone to beat.

Wilson is playing their best basketball of the season at the right time of the year. The Tigers have won 14 of their last 15 games and are 21-2 in their last 23. 

Coach Angelo Hernandez leads a group of student-athletes who may be young but are ready to compete. A coachable bunch, Hernandez and staff are able to make pertinent strategy adjustments in-game, thereby allowing the Tigers to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. 

Wilson has the pedigree to go all the way. Two years ago, the Tigers defeated St. John’s to win the state title and last season, they would have repeated, had it not been for a last-second 3-pointer by Dean Mazlish that lifted Sidwell to the throne. On Wednesday evening, Wilson avenged that loss, eliminating the Quakers 42-39.

Eric Morgan Jr. is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Miasiah Brown embodies the versatility needed to provide Wilson with whatever the Tigers need to be successful and senior Phil Carter may be the most under-appreciated big in the district.

All that said, for Wilson to get back to the DCSAA final, they’ll need a huge game from DCIAA player of the year, Darren Buchanan Jr. The sophomore sensation can score, pass and defend with equal parts proficiency. He is their emotional leader and the setter of the Tigers' tone. 

Buchanan will need to be involved early and often if Wilson is to challenge for their second title in three years.

Bold Prediction: 

Wilson may be the 3-seed, but I’m rollin’ with 10-seed Carroll. The Lions will ultimately have too much size, too much experience and too much hunger for a youthful Wilson squad whose days of greatness are likely a season away. 

Coach Powell has been building something special at Carroll and on Friday night, look for the fruits of his labor to come to fruition. 

Lions win a low scoring affair, 46-41.

No. 1 Gonzaga (23-10) vs. No. 5 Coolidge  (17-9)
Time: 9 p.m.

Coach Derrick Washington’s Coolidge Colts have been on the precipice of realizing their full potential all season long. After losing their first three games, Coolidge found their rhythm and subsequently, their identity. The Colts upset of St. John’s Wednesday night may have been a shock to most in the DMV, but those donning Coolidge orange and blue, weren’t the least bit surprised.

The Colts are paced by DCIAA scoring leader Kyle Gaskins. The sophomore guard averaged over 20 ppg during the regular season and has raised his output even higher in the playoffs. As dangerous a scorer as Gaskins is, he’s not the Colts only weapon — senior Chase Cook can score the ball in myriad ways and forwards Chris Moses and Stephaun Walker pose similar threats on the interior.

Coolidge enters Friday’s contest well in-tune with public perception — that they are a decisive underdog to top-seeded Gonzaga and have little chance of advancing. They are aware what the experts think, they simply don’t care.

The Eagles made quick work of Friendship Tech, beating the Titans by a final score of 90-54.  There was worry that Gonzaga may have entered this tournament still reeling from emotional let down of their loss in the WCAC semis. Much of that concern is now gone.

Three years ago, Chris Lykes led the Eagles in capturing the DCSAA crown. This season, Terrance Williams and Myles Stute will look to do the same. 

Many of the young men on this team have been together for years. The Eagles are a senior-laden squad that will lean on their experience and look to get out to an early lead on the Colts.

Bold Prediction:

Coach Washington has Coolidge moving in the right direction and with two more seasons of a Gaskins/Walker duo, they may very well win the 21’ and 22’ DCSAA state championships.

But not this year.

The Eagles senior class appreciates the time they’ve spent together and the opportunity to compete for Coach Turner. They will look to honor him by playing the game the right way and advancing to the DCSAA final. 

Gonzaga wins going away, 70-60.

The DCSAA semi-final games will be played at McDonough arena on the campus of Georgetown University. 

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How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

Archbishop Carroll's Elijah Solomon joined NBC Sports Washington's Chad Ricardo and shared how he's getting his workout in at a time when going to the gym or school is not an available option. 

"I kind of came up with my own workout regimen," he said. 

First, he used weight sets that he had. And, due to some recent construction, his parents had been doing in their home, he was able to repurpose materials including buckets which he filled with water and PVC pipes to create his own curl-up bar and squat racks.

As Ricardo says in the video above, with creativity like that, who really needs a gym?

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These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

In today’s game, high-powered offenses are king. Long gone are the days of wishbone formations, triple-option quarterbacks and play-calling strategies centered around “three yards and a cloud of dust.”

In 2020, spread sets are the norm and offenses are designed to put up points in a hurry. For defenses to be successful at slowing them down, they need skilled and versatile defenders in the secondary who can stop the pass and help slow the run game. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the best in the country.

Here are my Top 10 defensive backs in the DMV.

Ryan “Bo” Barnes | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Offers: 35

Ryan Barnes is a ball-hawking DB with next level length and a knack for making big plays. At 6-foot-2, Barnes is a big corner who blankets his opposition. He uses his long arms and stride to aide in recovering, and once he gets his hands on the ball he is a threat to score.

Though slight of frame, Barnes is a physical, sure tackler who effectively sets the edge against the run.

Antoine Booth | DeMatha (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Michigan State

Antoine Booth often accepts the challenge of lining up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver -- he does not back down. In fact, he raises his game to that of his competition. He plays the game with a moxie and bravado that will serve him well this season and moving forward.

Booth does a stellar job reading and reacting. He keeps his eyes in the backfield, plants his back foot and jumps routes, often leading to pass breakups and interceptions.

Jalen Clyatt | Sherwood (MD)

Safety: 6’4”, 200 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: East Carolina

Jalen Clyatt has tremendous size and length. As a long strider, he covers a lot of ground in little time.

Clyatt manages the middle of the field. His range allows him to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and his ball skills make him a threat to intercept passes that sail over the middle.

Cam Johnson | St. Frances (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 13

Cam Johnson has excellent technique. His hips are fluid, his backpedal is smooth and he changes direction effortlessly, which allows him to be successful in man coverage even when playing on an island.

At 6-feet tall, Johnson has nice length and a frame that he will grow into. The rising junior has legitimate “lockdown corner” potential.

Jalen “Buck” McCain | Flowers (MD)

Defensive Back: 6’0, 190

Class: 2021

Committed: Boston College

Jalen McCain is a versatile defensive back capable of making plays from all over the field. He can line up as a boundary-corner or in the slot versus spread offenses, as he displays proficiency in both zone and man coverage.

McCain is a skilled blitzer, has the speed and field awareness to defend in two-deep looks and thrives as a box safety, where his physicality and tackling abilities are on full display.

Will Simpkins III | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: University of Virginia

Simpkins has a Div.-I body type and he uses it to his advantage. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and excels at redirecting receivers, making it difficult for them to get into their routes.

His hand-fighting techniques are superb. He has loose hips and solid ball skills. Simpkins is capable of taking away an entire side of the field.

Jalen Stroman | Patriot (VA)

Safety: 6’1”, 195 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Virgina Tech

Jalen Stroman is developing into a special student athlete. He’s a big hitter who is most effective coming down hill and attacking. When defending the run, he’s equally adequate at filling the hole as he is setting the edge.

In pass coverage, Stroman displays an ability to undercut routes and break on the ball. He also displays the range to play deep centerfield.

Joshua Thompson | St. John’s (DC)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 8

Joshua Thompson thrives in press coverage. He has the physicality to manhandle receivers at the line, and the length to recover and make plays on the ball.

As a rising junior, his stock is on the rise. Thompson should develop into a 25-plus offer student athlete.

Dante Trader | McDonogh (MD)

Safety: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Maryland

Dante Trader is a natural center-fielder who displays excellent range and ball skills. His footwork and technique allow him to cover ground efficiently. He’s a sound tackler who consistently finds himself around the ball.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in instincts. Trader does an excellent job of diagnosing plays; seeing what’s in front of him and flowing accordingly.

Zakee Wheatley | Archbishop Spalding (MD)

Safety: 6’3”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Penn State

Zakee Wheatley is a big time student athlete who makes plays all over the field. He has the coverage skills to line up on the outside, as well as the size and physicality to run with tight ends down the seam.

Wheatley is a heavy hitter who provides support against the run and routinely uses his force to separate man from ball.