The Abe Pollin City Title Games will be be played March 20 at Verizon Center, D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association Athletic Director Stephanie Evans said Wednesday. The date is nearly two weeks later than the event typically takes place, and nearly a month since DCIAA teams will have played their last games.
The games match the DCIAA boys’ and girls’ champions against the titlists of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
Sources said earlier this week the game was tentatively set for March 12 at Verizon Center, but that date was unavailable due to the venue’s contractual obligations.
“March 12 was never actually under consideration for the game because it has been under contract with the circus for the past five years,” said David Touhey, general manager of Verizon Center, through a spokeswoman. “The earliest game available was March 1. The DCIAA informed us that the WCAC Virginia teams would not be available to participate that day because of their Virginia tournaments. So the next available date we suggested was March 20 or 21. The DCIAA decided to go with March 20 back on February 23.”
Evans said if the game was held earlier, it would have been either at American’s Bender Arena (4,500 capacity) or George Washington’s Smith Center (4,338 capacity).
“I think both conferences were willing to wait,” Evans said. Verizon Center is “where we have traditionally held it.”
Last year, the City Title Game was played on March 7. In 2010, it was played on March 14 — delayed because of scheduling issues caused by a blizzard. In 2009, the championship was played March 9.
No. 1 Paul VI Catholic will play No. 8 Coolidge in the boys’ game at 7:30 p.m. Paul VI, which won the WCAC trophy Monday, is scheduled to play in the Virginia independent schools tournament this week and the Alhambra Catholic Invitational from March 15-17.
“Obviously, it’s tough,” said Coolidge Coach Vaughn Jones, whose team beat Theodore Roosevelt in the DCIAA final on Feb. 25. “PVI will be in a couple tournaments so they’ll have a couple games to stay sharp. It’s a little tough for us. We’re still very excited to have a chance to play. We just have to condition and practice hard and try and set up a couple scrimmages here and there.”
In the girls’ game, which will be played at 5:30 p.m. on March 20, No. 2 Good Counselwill play No. 5 H.D. Woodson, which also didn’t plan on playing any games between the DCIAA final and the City Title Game. H.D. Woodson Coach Frank Oliver said he is trying last minute to schedule possible opponents who would be willing to squeeze in a game before late March so that his team can stay fresh. Good Counsel is scheduled to play in the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational from March 8-10.
“Three weeks is an awful long time,” Oliver said. “You have to do anything you can to prepare.”
Evans said that while the game’s later date wasn’t ideal, it would still give the DCIAA teams ample time to rest, practice and not miss class while attending other tournaments. “There are pros and cons on both sides,” she said.