Tristan Thompson came up about an inch short. The slam dunk he attempted with eight seconds left in the inaugural PCSAA title game turned into a no-doubt layup for Cesar Chavez. Thompson’s altered shot was a microcosm of the Eagles’ effort, as they stood tall despite a frantic second-half surge by National Collegiate to claim a 61-54 win at Trinity College in Northwest.
“I can dunk,” Thompson said. “I’ve always wanted a chance to dunk, and there I had the opportunity to dunk. I just didn’t dunk — I tried to, and it’s alright.”
The Eagles dominated defensively, holding the Panthers to just one field goal in the second quarter. Chavez carried a 30-14 lead into halftime.
As soon as the third quarter started, however, it was clear that National Collegiate had a renewed focus. The Panthers dialed up full-court pressure and picked up their tempo on the offensive side of the floor. They opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run to cut Chavez’s lead to nine.
But the Eagles weren’t flustered. They ran the court when they had to, and spread it out when they broke into a half-court set.
“The key is to always have a man at half court,” forward Dejuan Murphy (10 points) said of beating the press. “If you swing it to the sideline, hit the man at half. We get into four corners and spread the floor, because we’re all guards. We keep swinging.”
National Collegiate capitalized on a technical foul and good play in the paint to make it 53-49 with 1 minute 38 seconds left when Danzel Wright hit a pair of free throws. As it had all game, Chavez responded by forcing three consecutive turnovers, the last of which Thompson tried to dunk.
Chavez will advance to the D.C. State tournament.
“It feels good,” Murphy said. “We’re going to rep for the charter schools in states.”
Friendship Collegiate sophomore Kieche White dove headlong for a loose ball, careening into a Knights assistant coach on her bench. The situation wasn’t urgent, with Friendship already leading Cesar Chavez by double digits midway through the third quarter. But White’s play remained frantic.
It’s the same type of effort the Trinity Center crowd hailed when White made an acrobatic left-handed layup of the glass late in the Knights’ 64-41 victory in the PSCAA title game. And it’s the reason why she received a standing ovation when she fouled out moments later.
White “has that passion, and she’s had it ever since she walked through Friendship’s doors,” Friendship Collegiate Coach Tesha Cunningham said. “She’s always had it in her. I wouldn’t call it her motor, I’d call it her will to win.”