By Josh Barr
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; D06
James Robinson sat out much of the first half of the Abe Pollin City Title Game on Monday night because of foul trouble. The DeMatha junior point guard returned and made a handful of key plays down the stretch, but even then he missed the front end of a one-and-one while protecting a one-point lead with less than two minutes left.
However, with the game tied and the fourth-ranked Stags holding the ball for more than one minute for the final shot of regulation, Robinson dribbled toward the basket, spun down the lane and drew a foul with four seconds left. Robinson then made a pair of free throws and DeMatha claimed its third consecutive City Title by escaping with a 52-50 victory over 20th-ranked Theodore Roosevelt before 6,000 at Verizon Center.
"Going to the line, I tried to put that first miss out of my brain," said Robinson, who entered making 72 percent of his free throws. "This year I have struggled from the line. It's been one of my worst years from the line."
It was a game that was indicative of DeMatha's entire season. The Stags looked splendid for stretches. With Robinson on the bench, sophomore center BeeJay Anya (14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks) was terrific. But DeMatha couldn't shake its opponent and even trailed down the stretch.
Yet, for all of its struggles, DeMatha (26-7) wound up where it normally does. The Stags tied for first place in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season, won the WCAC tournament and then beat the D.C. public school champion.
"We make it hard, but whatever, as long as we win in the end," DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said. "It's a young team. All these guys will get a chance to go after our fourth one next year.
"This is our season, the way a lot of our games have been. . . . We've eked them out and are used to it. And [Roosevelt] got here by buzzer-beaters too."
Rough Riders Coach Rob Nickens, whose team won the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association title with last-second shots in the semifinals and final, thought there was one more coming. Behind forward Devin Gallman (19 points), Roosevelt rallied from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter, pulling ahead 48-47 on a jump hook by DeVaughn Jones with 11/2 minutes left.
Jairus Lyles converted a three-point play for DeMatha, then Ezell Starks scored on a drive for Roosevelt (25-6). It was 50-50 and Robinson dribbled near midcourt until 14 seconds left when he moved to the left and started toward the basket.
"I figured he was going to make them because he missed the one before that," Jones said. "He's been pretty clutch for us."
Roosevelt called timeout and inbounded from under its own basket, but an errant pass was snatched by DeMatha forward Jerami Grant and time expired.
"Tough loss," Nickens said. "You want moral victories, but that's a tough loss."