Washington International Defeats Jewish Day School, 52-46, in PVAC Tournament Championship Game

By Matthew Stanmyre
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 22, 2009

As the game clock began to tick down to its final seconds and the improbable upset started to become a reality, the delirium only mounted inside the packed gymnasium at Trinity College in Northeast.

Washington International School, which only 18 days earlier had been blown out by 40 points by Jewish Day School, entered last night's Potomac Valley Athletic Conference tournament championship against the Lions as merely a minor roadblock in the way of JDS's perfect season and the coronation of star Eitan Chemerinski.

Except Washington International had other ideas. The Red Devils hung around throughout and then held on late to pull out an improbable 52-46 double overtime victory over the Lions in front of 1,500 exhilarated fans who stayed out until almost midnight to witness the thriller.

The victory overjoyed Washington International (20-3), which won its first tournament title since 1993. After the final buzzer, a pack of Red Devils fans stormed the court and tackled the players, creating a pile of howling students in the middle of the hardwood.

"It's incredible," said forward Alex Gordon, who scored nine of his 11 points in the overtime periods. "We were such underdogs coming into this game after losing by 40 points. To come in here and win it in double overtime is amazing. I don't even know how to describe that."

Chemerinski, a 6-foot-8 Cornell recruit who spurred the best season (23-1) in JDS history, made a basket as time expired in regulation to force overtime, but he fouled out 40 seconds into the first overtime. He finished his sparkling career on the JDS bench, imploring every move of his teammates. Chemerinski scored 23 points.

But it was Gordon and game most valuable player Doug Spetelnich who got it done in the end, making critical free throws and grabbing key rebounds through the overtimes. "We're a good team," Washington International Coach Tom O'Mara said. "We've had some tough losses, but we were very confident going into this game."

Wash. International 52, Jewish Day School 46 Another Title: In the evening's earlier game, Lynee Belton scored 23 points and Andrea Jones added 17 to lead Grace Brethren-Clinton to a 63-50 overtime victory over Oakcrest in the PVAC girls' tournament championship. It marked the team's third straight conference title. Veteran Leader: Grace Brethren guard Andrea Jones is the school's all-time leading scorer and has been on the varsity team since she was an eighth-grader.

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