Despite not having its All-America 6-foot-8 center David Butler (academic difficulties), Coolidge High School's boys basketball team has played exceptionally well this season.
Going into this week's games, the No. 13 Colts were 9-3, with all three losses coming in close games to out-of-town teams.
Coolidge had games scheduled against Dunbar, Wilson and Eastern this week. The experience of the out-of-town games seemed to help Coolidge's confidence as it defeated Interhigh opponents H.D. Woodson, Anacostia and Cardozo last week to remain in a first-place tie in the league.
"Anytime you play teams out of the city, you have to gain good experience," said Len Farello, Coolidge assistant coach. "The kids get the opportunity to see other basketball philosophies and teamwork.
"The Las Vegas trip, along with the games with the California teams, provided wonderful opportunities for the kids to see how other people live in other areas."
Coolidge is getting fine play from guards Derrick Davis and Carl Weldon and forward Byron Hawkins. The other starters are forward Fred Davy and center Everett Robinson. The Colts have been especially pleased with the early development of 6-foot-10 sophomore Donald Hodge.
Hodge, a reserve who is the team's leading rebounder, and Robinson have been splitting time at center, filling in for Butler. Butler, a senior, is expected to return at the end of this month.
"Butler is a great player and neither Robinson nor Hodge can be compared to him right now," Farello said. "Hodge is going to be a very good player and right now we're counting on him and Robinson under the boards. But you have to miss a David Butler."
Wilson High's administration isn't very happy it must share its gymnasium with a late-night basketball recreation league on several occasions this season.
After much debate, the Interhigh League switched its afternoon basketball games to evenings this season in order to prevent the disruption of afternoon classes and to generate more revenue. Because of an apparent miscommunication with the recreation league and the D.C. Public Schools, Wilson has had to change starting times for some of its boys and girls games back to the afternoon to accommodate the recreation department.
But Vinna Freeman, supervising director of physical education and athletics for the D.C. public schools, said a schedule was worked out with the recreation department where it would use Wilson's facility only when the team was playing away games.
"There is a revamped schedule, and as far as I know, there's no conflict," Freeman said.
However, Wilson Athletic Director Glenda Holmes said she received a schedule from the league office just last week showing at least three afternoon games for her teams.
"If we have to play afternoons just to accomodate some lawyers who want to come in and play basketball, we're defeating the purpose of why we decided to switch to nights," Holmes said. "It's ridiculous. We're losing revenue and we're not very happy about it."
Perhaps Wilson might fare better if it played during the day. Despite having two of the Interhigh's leading scorers, the Tigers are struggling as a team.
Ronald Holt was averaging 22.7 points per game before he was dropped from the team this week for disciplinary reasons. Grady Thompson is averaging 19.3 points. With only a handful of experienced players back, the Tigers are off to a 1-9 start.