The senior-laden DeMatha Stags defeated Paul VI 70-56 to capture the 2019-2020 WCAC basketball crown. Led by Earl Timberlake’s 21 points, the Stags pulled away late to capture their second title in three years.
DeMatha entered the final with an overall record of 29-3, but one of their losses came at the hands of the Panthers, 74-65, on February 16th. Monday night, they were determined not to allow recent history to repeat itself.
The Stags seized the lead early in the first quarter and each time PVI got close, a DeMatha upperclassmen made a big play.
“Our seniors stepped up for us,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “Obviously everybody is going to talk about Earl [ Timberlake] and Hunter [Dickinson], but we had five seniors who pushed us through all the tough times we had this year. It was a roller coaster ride, but our five seniors stepped up for us all night and really all season long.”
Undoubtedly, DeMatha won as a team on the big stage provided by American University, but it was Earl Timberlake’s performance that stole the show. On a night where the lights were the brightest, Timberlake dazzled the raucous Bender arena crowd, with a virtuoso performance sure to go down in the annals of WCAC lure.
Not only did he score 41 points, he grabbed nine rebounds and tallied five assists, routinely setting his teammates up in position to make open shots.
“I'm a team player, I do whatever needs to be done to win,” Timberlake said. “I don’t care about the stats, I just want to win at the end of the day.”
Timberlake got it done on both ends of the floor. His winning efforts included five blocked shots. Serving as a defensive anchor for the Stags, he protected the rim on countless occasions, routinely swatting potential PVI buckets from the sky.
“He’s a big-time player and the I don’t even know if the University of Miami realizes how good of a player he is. I’ve said it and ill keep saying it, there’s not a better defender in High School or College basketball than Earl Timberlake right now,” Jones said. “He’s gonna play basketball a long time.”
Late in the second half, PVI went on a run. After trailing by double-digits, the Panthers' backcourt began to heat up. Trevor Keels knocked down a jumper and Jeremy Roach’s floater cut the Stags lead to 53-50 midway through the fourth.
With all the momentum on the side of the Panther’s — the game suddenly hanging in the balance, Timberlake responded. The Hurricanes commit hit a contested three-pointer from the elbow over the outstretched hand of his defender. After a DeMatha stop, forward Jordan Hawkins pushed the ball to the middle of the floor before centering it to Timberlake at the top of the key. With three seconds remaining on the shot clock, the senior took a single dribble to his right before pulling up for what would be a three-point dagger.
“I had been struggling with my three-point shot against them, but I never failed to trust the work I put in the mornings and late nights,” Timberlake said. “I took those shots and believed in myself.”
DeMatha’s coach believed in him as well. Jones noted he’s done this entire career.
“This was the same thing he did as a sophomore. We won against Gonzaga behind him hitting big shots for us and getting big shots on the other end.”
Jordan Hawkins scored 17 points and Michigan commit Hunter Dickinson added 10 points and five rebounds for the Stags. Duke commit Jeremy Roach and Trevor Keels paced PVI with 22 points each.
The victory is DeMatha’s ninth WCAC championship since 2000.
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