Coolidge boys’ basketball team wins first league title since 1988

February 25, 2012

Since the beginning of the season, Coolidge senior guard Khalen Cumberlander had an idea how he would celebrate if his team won the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association boys’ basketball title.

But after the eighth-ranked Colts toppled defending champion Theodore Roosevelt, 64-53, at Coolidge on Saturday to win the title, the team decided to cut down the net – delaying Cumberlander’s goal of dumping Gatorade on Coach Vaughn Jones while standing on the easy-clean linoleum floor near the locker room.

Instead, Cumberlander and senior Urban Hampton took the tub of blue liquid and emptied it on Jones while Jones was standing on the shiny gym floor.

“He was taking too long,” said Cumberlander with a smile.

It was an unusual celebration for a long-awaited trophy – one that hadn’t graced this school since 1988.

“We’ve won the [DCIAA] West for five straight years and never had the opportunity to play in the finals,” Jones said. “The kids really understood they had to take advantage of this today.”

Against the Rough Riders, the Colts (29-6) proved too athletic behind Cumberlander (12 points), junior guard De’Shaun Morman (game-high 19 points) and senior center Maurice Jeffers (nine points and 10 rebounds). Coolidge jumped to a 23-13 first-quarter lead and withstood the shooting of senior guard Hershell Grant (team-high 18 points) in the second quarter. At the half, Coolidge held a 35-31 lead.

The Colts then took a 13-point third-quarter lead after holding the Rough Riders (18-11) to only eight points. Morman continued his strong play, hitting three-pointers, driving to the basket and drawing fouls and skying for rebounds.

After two free throws by Rontrez Purcell cut Coolidge’s lead to 56-51 with 4:32 to play, Colts senior guard Omar Roberts hit key shots and controlled the game’s tempo late to help preserve the win.

“This is the best feeling ever,” Jeffers said.

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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