Gonzaga D.C. Classic

St. John's Defeats Archbishop Molloy at Gonzaga D.C. Classic

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Even though he already was on the recruiting radar for many college programs, Derrick Thomas spent last season playing junior varsity games before small crowds, waiting for his chance to play in more meaningful games. Now, still surrounded by many of his teammates from last season who also have moved up from the JV, Thomas is in the starting lineup for the St. John's varsity team -- and the New York native who transferred last year from a New England boarding school is making the most of his opportunity.

Thomas, a 6-foot-3 senior swingman, scored 20 points last night, helping the Cadets to an 80-68 victory over Archbishop Molloy of New York in the quarterfinals of the Gonzaga D.C. Classic.

"He does a lot of things well," St. John's Coach Paul DeStefano said, noting that the two colleges showing the most interest in Thomas -- James Madison and Drexel -- both had coaches in attendance last night. "He's not great at anything, but he's a good athlete, has a good presence about him and knows how to play."

Thomas spent last season on the junior varsity because he transferred from Northfield Mount Hermon in the middle of the school year and did not start attending St. John's until the beginning of January.

Junior guard Tim Snyder led the Cadets with 21 points as they advanced to tonight's semifinals at American University against Coolidge.

Guard Derrick Washington, playing for the first time this season as he recovers from a groin injury, scored 12 points to lead the Colts to a 62-50 victory over Benedictine of Richmond in the last quarterfinal.

The day's first quarterfinal was riveting. Freshman Joe Hazel, who had spent most of the season on the junior varsity and played in only one of the first three varsity games this season for Bullis, made a game-tying three-pointer with 20 seconds left in overtime, then made the game-winning three-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a 64-62 victory over St. John's of Shrewsbury, Mass.

Until yesterday morning, Hazel had been slated to play in the Bullis junior varsity game against Good Counsel in the afternoon. However, with four varsity players absent from school because of illness, Bulldogs Coach Bruce Kelley located Hazel during a break in class and told the freshman he would be playing on the varsity last night.

Hazel's response, according to Kelley? "He said, 'But Coach, I don't have my jersey with me.' "

So Kelley dug out the uniform that belonged to one of the sick players, guard Billy Reilly, and instead of wearing his own No. 30, the 6-foot Hazel wore Reilly's No. 10. And with another Bullis player having fouled out, Hazel found himself on the court in crunch time.

"At 10 o'clock this morning, it was, 'You're with us,' " Bullis Coach Bruce Kelley said. "Then at 5:15 he's hitting the game-winning shot and everybody is hugging him."

Robert McPherson and Tex McClinton led Bullis with 14 points apiece. Bullis (2-2) tonight will play No. 5 Gonzaga at 6:45. Guard Tyler Thornton scored 16 points to lead three Eagles in double figures as they advanced yesterday with a 66-55 victory over Mount St. Joseph of Baltimore.

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