Midway through the first quarter of No. 2 Spingarn's 98-78 D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association victory over Ballou, one of the Knights' fans began to taunt Green Wave forward Deon Saunders.
"Hey 15, that's four turnovers already," the fan screamed, referring to Saunders's jersey number. "Give him the ball again, and that will be five."
The next time Spingarn came down the floor, Saunders, who is 6 feet 6, 200 pounds, dunked, hung onto the rim for a moment, and pointed to the fan.
Saunders made his point, and so did Spingarn, which controlled the game from that moment on en route to a convincing victory at Spingarn.
"That guy was trying to frustrate me, get me off my game," said Saunders, who scored a game-high 35 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and had 10 assists. "But he couldn't."
"We knew [Ballou] couldn't beat us," he added. "We were the first real team they've played. Anybody can have a good record if they don't play good teams."
Spingarn, which also got 21 points from junior forward Anthony Williams, took sole possession of first place in the DCIAA East with the victory, improving to 5-0 in the league and 14-1 overall. The Knights, who were led by senior guard Norman Morrow's 20 points, fell to 4-1 in the league and 12-5 overall.
"We haven't played against this kind of intensity," said Ballou Coach Michael Grafton. "We're young. It's that simple. "We have a lot of kids who haven't played varsity ball before."
Ballou, which has no returning starters from last season, lost seven players who transferred over the summer to various area schools. Of those seven players, five of them started at some point last season and the other two saw significant playing time. The players transferred because by late summer Ballou had not hired a new coach.
Ballou's inexperience showed in the first half. After playing well in the first quarter, jumping out to 12-5 lead, the Knights became flustered by the Green Wave's tight man-to-man defense. The result was turnovers and poor shot selection.
Spingarn rebounded quickly from that first-quarter deficit, scoring 20 of the next 28 points. That run began with Saunders' thunderous dunk.
"Once we settled down and started to do what we're supposed do, we were all right," Spingarn Coach Doc Robinson said. "The key was our defense. We completely stopped them."
Spingarn did not trail again after the first quarter, and led 50-34 at halftime.
"This game shows that we are ready to play now," said Spingarn senior guard-forward Chakowby Hicks, who scored 13 points and had nine assists. "We're in the second half of the season now. Everything counts from here on out. The only people who are going to deny us are ourselves."
Note: DCIAA officials considered moving the game to Ballou earlier in the day because the ceiling inside Spingarn's three-year-old gym was covered with condensation and was leaking onto the floor. But with the assistance of students, who wiped the floor with towels, the game was played without incident.