DCIAA boys' basketball
Ballou's Donte Thomas getting an assist from two co-stars
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Zalmico Harmon and Christian Leach sat and watched their good friend Donte Thomas try to single-handedly lead Ballou to its first City Title last year, before the Knights lost to DeMatha. Thomas's AAU teammates recalled how much they loved playing with him in the summer and figured they should do it in the winter, too.
"They said that if they had played with me, then maybe we could've beaten DeMatha," Thomas said.
They might get the chance again this March. With Harmon transferring from O'Connell and Leach from Coolidge, No. 3 Ballou is steamrolling the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association behind its talented three-guard attack, with McKinley being its latest victim -- an 83-42 home smothering.
Thomas, who has led the DCIAA in scoring the past two years, has said he struggles to avoid trying to do too much. With the prospect of Harmon and Leach joining him, Thomas knew that wouldn't be a problem.
"The only difference between AAU [and Ballou last year] was that he passed the ball more with us," Harmon said. "You could see, it gives him more energy to do all the things he does."
Thomas scored a game-high 27 points against McKinley, but it was not the result of him taking half his team's shots, which he had to do in years past. Harmon and Leach each added 17 points.
"It takes a lot of pressure off him," Leach said, "but you see he's still scoring the same amount as he's been scoring."
Early, though, it was McKinley (6-6, 1-1 DCIAA East) doing all the scoring, taking an 11-0 lead on the fabulous shooting of its undersized but skilled backcourt of Desma Nicholson and Calvin Banks. They combined to hit six first-half three-pointers and score 30 points before halftime. The problem was, the rest of their team had just two first-half points.
Behind Harmon's terrific on-the-ball defense, Ballou (12-2, 2-0) simply turned up the pressure, forced the ball to one of the other three McKinley players on the floor and ran away with the game.
After Banks hit a layup to put McKinley up 26-24 2½ minutes into the second quarter, Ballou scored 21 of the next 25 points and went into halftime up 45-32. The Knights scored the first 14 of the second half and had a running clock by virtue of a 30-point margin late in the third quarter.