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.
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.
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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