DCIAA basketball playoffs: Theodore Roosevelt, Eastern advance to boys' final; H.D. Woodson to face Coolidge in girls' final
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 11:36 PM
Antone James had the exact feeling you don't want when you toss up a potential game-winning shot.
"When it left my hands, I clutched right before it, and I thought it was off," the Theodore Roosevelt junior guard said. "But you know how you talk about the basketball gods? Well, they saved us."
After a frenetic sequence in which it appeared Roosevelt would turn it over and lose the game, a loose ball rolled to the left corner, where James picked it up and flung in a three-pointer as time expired. It gave the Rough Riders a 71-69 victory over Spingarn in the first boys' semifinal of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs Thursday at Coolidge.
Roosevelt, which went 36 years in between league titles, will play for its second in four seasons Saturday, when the Rough Riders face Eastern, which beat Coolidge, 68-54, in Thursday's second semifinal.
While the girls' games weren't expected to provide much drama, the boys' certainly were, and they didn't disappoint.
Roosevelt threatened to break open a close game midway through the third quarter, when the Rough Riders went on an 11-1 run - with Jarrell Allen (15 points) hitting a three-pointer a layup, to go up 54-43. Even though Spingarn rallied to tie it at 58 with four minutes to play, Roosevelt went back ahead 67-60 on a three-pointer by Ezell Starks a minute later.
Roosevelt, though, went cold, missing three of four free throws - including the front ends of two one-and-ones - and turning the ball over on six of seven possessions.
Spingarn got a combined 14 fourth-quarter points from senior Orlando Lawson (22 points) and junior Rockell Vaughn (20), and when Khalif Dandy hit a bank shot in the lane with 50 seconds left, the Green Wave had its first lead, 69-68, since the second quarter.
Despite Roosevelt's turnovers, though, Spingarn couldn't close it out, missing four free throws in the final 26 seconds. When Roosevelt regained possession from its own baseline with eight seconds left, Devin Gallman (17 points) drove the length of the court for a play that called for him to attack the basket.
But as he hit the lane, Gallman slipped, hit the ground and lost control of the ball.
"When he fell, my heart dropped," Roosevelt center Devaughn Jones said. "I thought it was over."