The D.C. public high school boys teams that played in the D.C.-Baltimore Basketball Classic at Coolidge High in Northwest Washington on Saturday went 3-1 against opponents from Baltimore to capture Washington's first title in the tournament's third year.
The event matches the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association's top four teams and the city of Baltimore's top four public schools in an all-day event. Baltimore won the previous two, but this year clearly belonged to the District.
Coolidge, No. 3 Spingarn and No. 19 Dunbar defeated Southern, Lake Clifton and Dunbar (Balt.), respectively. City defeated Anacostia, 82-68, for Baltimore's lone victory.
"There's definitely a rivalry between Washington and Baltimore," said Deon Saunders of Spingarn. "They think that they've got better basketball, but we showed them tonight that they don't."
Saunders, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots in leading Spingarn to a 79-60 victory over Lake Clifton, Maryland's defending Class 4A champion.
Said Coolidge Coach Willie Sanders, who created the tournament: "We started this to showcase the talent of these two cities. Besides New York and Philadelphia, who has better high school basketball than Washington and Baltimore?"
In the opening game, City College, an honors high school in downtown Baltimore, got a 37-point performance from 5-11 junior guard Todd Galloway to defeat Anacostia of Southeast. Senior guard Dwayne Shackleford led Anacostia with 25 points.
"These two cities being so close makes natural rivalries between the teams," said City Coach Daryl Wade, who has directed his team to the Class 3A final four in each of the past three seasons. "It means a lot for our team to go home with the win."
Coolidge, led by 6-foot senior guard Orlando Jones (22 points), defeated Southern, 102-91 in the second game. Southern pulled to within 95-91 with 45 seconds remaining, but Coolidge made 5 of 6 free throw attempts to secure the victory. Coolidge's Dominic Wilkes added 17 points and Damaris Lindsey had 16.
Dunbar of Northwest got 15 points from Dion Walker and 13 from Steven Savoy to defeat Dunbar (Balt.), 63-55.
Coolidge may be getting back one of the nation's top-rated players. Omar Weaver, a 6-7 forward who played for three seasons at the Northwest school, but transferred to Centennial High in Compton, Calif., last year, may be returning, according to Coolidge Coach Willie Sanders. Sanders is Weaver's legal guardian.
Sanders also said that Weaver has backed out on his commitment to attend Missouri next fall.
"Omar was doing well in school but he got homesick," Sanders said. "Hopefully we can get him back into [Coolidge]."
Weaver could not be reached to comment.
Weaver, who averaged 19.5 points per game during his final season at Coolidge, left Centennial last week and was scheduled to return to Washington this past weekend. But whether he will be allowed to return to Coolidge--or whether he has any eligibility remaining there--has not been determined. Sanders says he has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday with DCIAA officials to resolve those questions.
One league official said last week that he believed Weaver had used up all of his eligibility. But Sanders says he is aware of a technicality that may force the league to reinstate Weaver. Sanders did not want to be specific, but the technicality may have something to do with Weaver missing nearly his entire junior season because of a residency issue.
If Weaver is not allowed back into Coolidge, Sanders said that he will try to get him into one of the area's top private schools.
Five of the area's top boys basketball teams, and two top area girls teams, have been selected to play in this year's DeMatha Invitational. The invitational raises funds for organ donor awareness and the Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Donations.
It is a one-day, four-game extravaganza that will be held Jan. 20 at MCI Center.
The boys lineup: DeMatha vs. Holy Name Central Catholic (Mass.) at 7:45; Gonzaga vs. Oxon Hill at 6:30; and O'Connell vs. Takoma Academy at 4:30.
The girls matchup is St. John's vs. Hammond at 3.
Gonzaga had more missed shots than points in its 33-31 victory over Bullis in a semifinal of the Bullis Holiday Classic on Saturday in Potomac.
The 18th-ranked Eagles (5-1) struggled, making 1 of 18 field goal attempts in the first half, and finished 6 of 45. The 33 points scored was the lowest point total for Gonzaga in 21 years.
"In 36 years, I can't remember a team scoring so few points and still winning," Gonzaga Coach Dick Myers said. "We just couldn't score even though we had some easy shots inside that we missed. It's amazing."
Time to Get Serious
Riverdale Baptist's girls team is off to one of its best starts. The third-ranked Upper Marlboro school is 5-0 and has outscored its opponents, 576-147. It should be noted that the Crusaders' five victims have losing records.
Riverdale will get its first big test this week when it plays at Frederick on Monday and hosts No. 4 DuVal of Lanham on Friday.
"These games are really to tell us how good we are," said senior guard Vicky Briscoe, who is among four starters averaging in double figures. "It will tell us how much our hard work has paid off."