Coolidge guard Kory Cooley was trying to break free to receive an inbounds pass with about 10 seconds left in Monday night’s D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship game against Theodore Roosevelt. With the score tied, Cooley was instructed to take the inbounds and set up the Colts to attempt a winning play.
But before he could, Cooley was trampled and fouled by a Roosevelt forward. Clinching the win with a free throw was not as romantic as dishing off a game-winning pass, but after the first three quarters Cooley had, it was the perfect opportunity to redeem himself.
A hobbled Cooley knocked down one of two shots for the final margin in a 62-61 victory. It is the second consecutive DCIAA championship for the Colts.
“Biggest shot of my life, so far,” said Cooley, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter after being held scoreless the first three quarters. “I was going through a little slump. I wasn’t in my rhythm, but luckily, fourth quarter, my shot came to me and I was able to knock it down in the clutch.”
David Kadiri added 20 points for Coolidge, and the big man helped clog the lane on the final possession when Roosevelt (25-3) had several looks at the basket in the paint with less than 10 seconds left. After the ball was punched outside, Troy Stancil’s last second three-pointer fell short at the buzzer.
Coolidge (22-6) was in control late in the fourth quarter, leading 61-54 with about two minutes remaining, but Roosevelt responded with a 7-0 run that took less than a minute, spurred by a three-pointer from Mike Warren (17 points) and four free throws from Johnnie Shuler (19 points).
It was a fitting conclusion to a game dictated by runs.
Roosevelt used a 10-0 run midway through the second period to open up a 28-19 lead, but Coolidge needed just more than a minute to respond with an 8-0 run on its own, which led to a 36-34 halftime lead for the Colts.
The teams went back and forth until late in the fourth quarter.
“We knew the game was going to be a tough game. It’s a championship game, a rival game,” Coolidge Coach Vaughn Jones said. “Every time we play Roosevelt, it’s a pretty tough game.”
The contest at Coolidge was chippy from the onset, and after the game, two Roosevelt players got into an altercation with several members of the Coolidge student section, prompting security to empty the gym before the Colts could receive their trophies.
Despite going scoreless the first 24 minutes and missing an opportunity to run the offense down to the buzzer, Cooley’s free throw is what got the Colts over the top.
“It’s very underrated. All points are part of the game,” Cooley said of the free throw. “If you win by one, you win by 30, it’s the same thing.”