The past few weeks have been frustrating for Stanford Robinson. The top scorer on the Washington area’s top-ranked team has been mired in a shooting slump, just as the stream of college recruiters coming to see him play has grown steadier.
Sunday was no different. With plenty of college coaches on hand — including Louisville’s Rick Pitino seated just behind the Paul VI Catholic bench, a few feet away from Maryland’s Mark Turgeon — Robinson still struggled from the field.
With the Panthers nursing a one-point lead in the final 30 seconds, Robinson missed an open layup. But before he could think about what went wrong, the 6-foot-3 junior forward quickly jumped again and tipped in his own miss, helping visiting Paul VI hang on to beat second-ranked DeMatha, 58-55, before a capacity crowd of 1,800 in Hyattsville.
“I don’t really know what it is, but I can’t hit anything,” said Robinson, who finished with nine points, the first time all season he has been held under 10 points in consecutive games. “But I’m showing I can impact the game without scoring. I can help my team in other ways.”
While Robinson has emerged as the Panthers’ top offensive threat this season, the team’s array of offensive options has allowed their winning streak to continue despite Robinson’s decreasing production. On Sunday, Coleman Johnson scored 12 points and Jamall Robinson and Patrick Holloway added 11 apiece as Paul VI won its 14th straight.
The Panthers (26-2, 18-0), who had already secured the top seed in this week’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament, wrapped up what is believed to be the first undefeated season in league play by a team other than DeMatha for the first time in 50 years.
Thinking ahead, Stanford Robinson had purchased a pair of neon yellow socks this past week and hoped to wear them Sunday to commemorate the victory. But Coach Glenn Farello spotted the socks during the team’s pregame stretching, which led to a somewhat heated argument in the locker room before Robinson relented and donned white socks.
“He said I wanted to come out there looking like a fashion model instead of a basketball player,” said Robinson, a junior.
The game was close throughout and DeMatha (25-4, 15-3) took a 55-54 lead on BeeJay Anya’s putback with 2½ minutes left. Paul VI went back in front, 56-55, on Johnson’s foul-line jumper with 1 minute 18 seconds left. After a DeMatha miss, Robinson tipped in his own miss and DeMatha’s last-chance three-pointer was not close.
“It’s huge,” Farello said. “To go undefeated in the best league in the country is a special accomplishment.”