De Matha High School failed to win its league championship this year for only the second time since 1961, but another streak remains intact.
For the 17th consecutive year, every senior on the De Matha squad has been offered a full college scholarship.
None of the five seniors even started during the past season, but that is of little concern to college recruiters looking for well-trained prospects with a tradition of winning.
Talent scourts from colleges and the pros are well aware of graduates from this Catholic, predominantly white boys' school. De Matha is not as affluent as some of the prep schools in the area, but it does charge $950 tuition and requires students to wear coats and ties.
Two former De Matha stars, Adrian Dantley and Kenny Carr, played for America's 1976 Olympic champions. Carr was a junior last season for North Carolina State, where freshman Charles Hawkeye Whitney, another De matha grad, was rookie of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Dantley, who dropped out of Notre Dame after his junior year, was rookie of the year in the National Basketball Association.
Other De Matha grads who have moved on to later success unclude John Austin, Boston College; Johnny Jones, Los Angeles State and two championship teams with the Boston Celtics, and four others who went into pro ball - Joe Kennedy of Duke, Sid Catlett of Notre Dame, Aubrey nash of Kansas and James Brown of Harvard.
Morgan Wootten is the architect of a program that has produced a record of 572 victories against only 84 defeats since he took over as head coach for the 1956-57 season.
The school had just dropped into Division II of the Washington Metropolitan Athletic Conference when Wootten arrived, but within a year the Stags were back in Division I and they have won 20 or more games every season.
Even this past season, when they were edged for the Catholic title, the Stags posted a 29-4 record and won invitational tournaments in Raleigh, N.C., Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md.
De Matha, under a league ruling, has not been able to offer scholarships since 1964, and active recruiting has been banned since the late 1960s. But Wootten has no trouble finding athletes willing to pay the annual tuition fee.
"We've been successful because a great number of athletes want to come here," Wootten said, "although we've lost some when they find out what we want of them."
"We want good student-athletes who are willing to work hard and pay the price. We tell them that their priorities should be God, their families and their studies, with basketball fourth."