WCAC boys semifinals: McNamara's Thornton scores 35, but DeMatha will play Gonzaga for title

DeMatha kept a pesky Paul VI team at bay and Gonzaga fought off a late charge by Bishop McNamara to set up a classic WCAC final for Monday night.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2011; 9:55 PM

James Robinson picked up his second foul with nearly two minutes left in the first quarter and made the slow, unenjoyable walk to the bench, knowing he would likely watch until play resumed after halftime. While DeMatha's standout junior guard said he had confidence in his teammates, he also was looking forward to a chance to be aggressive and assert himself on the offensive end when he got back on the court.

With the fifth-ranked Stags locked in a close game, Robinson got his first basket on a drive early in the fourth quarter and he later scored on a drive along the right baseline with the shot clock running down as DeMatha held off 14th-ranked Paul VI Catholic, 52-47, in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament semifinal on Sunday before 3,000.

In Monday's final, the Stags (24-7) will play sixth-ranked Gonzaga (24-6) at American University at 8:30 p.m. Sophomore guard Nate Britt scored 21 points as the Eagles got off to a fast start and cruised past 20th-ranked McNamara, 80-63.

McNamara guard Marcus Thornton scored 35 points, making eight three-point shots in the loss.

It will be the third consecutive year the teams have played for the WCAC title and a berth in the City Title game. DeMatha won the past two seasons and has won five of the past six WCAC titles.

DeMatha and Gonzaga split their regular season meetings, each winning their home game.

The teams advanced Sunday in much different fashion.

Gonzaga built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and was only briefly threatened. McNamara (21-9) cut what had been a 23-point deficit to 66-58 and had the ball but was unable to score as the Eagles held on.

However, the victory may have been costly. Sophomore forward Kris Jenkins, one of Gonzaga's top players, hopped off the court after injuring his right ankle while trying to block a shot with three minutes left.

"I came down and twisted my ankle," Jenkins said. "That's all I did. I'll be all right."

In the first semifinal, much as in their two regular season games - decided by a total of four points, with one going overtime - neither DeMatha nor Paul VI (20-10) led by more than eight points.

Prolific guard Patrick Holloway, who scored a game-high 22 points, scored on a drive to tie it at 46 midway through the final quarter. But Robinson countered for DeMatha. He was fouled and made two free throws. Then, after Holloway made 1 of 2 free throws to pull Paul VI to 48-47, Robinson slashed between defenders as he drove for the game's biggest basket.

"In the second half, I started with two fouls, and at that part of the game Coach [Mike] Jones told me to go to the basket," said Robinson, who scored all of his nine points after halftime. "That's what I did."

Guard Jairus Lyles led the Stags with 15 points and forward Mikael Hopkins added 10 points and nine rebounds.

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