In the final weeks of last season, DeMatha High School's basketball program showed signs that it may be on the verge of returning to its championship-level form. The Stags' summer league performance has only reinforced that notion.
DeMatha is undefeated in both the Ban the Brick and The Rock summer leagues, racking up a combined record of 17-0. The Stags' only loss of the summer came to Bullis in the D.C. Board Games tournament.
Behind the play of guards Austin Freeman and Nigel Munson and front-court players Desmond Adedeji, Jordan Nichols and Mamadi Diane, the Stags have defeated many of the area's best teams, including Paul VI Catholic, Eleanor Roosevelt, Oxon Hill, South Lakes and Hayfield.
Meantime, Jerai Grant, the son of former NBA standout Harvey Grant, has continued to emerge. The 6-foot-8, 200-pound rising sophomore is averaging 11 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game.
"Jerai is starting to look a lot like his dad," DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said.
D.C. Assault Goes on Rampage
With only eight players on the roster, D.C. Assault went undefeated in pool play, beat the defending champion in overtime in the first round of bracket play and went on to win the AAU 16-and-under national tournament earlier this month in Houston.
Mike Beasley, who as a freshman last year attended the IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton, Fla., continued to make an impact on the local summer scene. He averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds and had a 39-point performance in an 82-77 overtime victory over Spiece Indy Heat. Beasley, a 6-9 forward, last month led Riverdale Baptist to the And 1 High School Basketball Championship's East Region II tournament title.
Nolan Smith, a rising sophomore at St. John's and the son of the late Derek Smith, the former Louisville and NBA standout and Washington Bullets assistant coach, moved from shooting guard to point guard for the tournament to run the team's offense.
Montrose Christian Looking Good
Watching from the stands, Montrose Christian Coach Stu Vetter was caught smiling on a few occasions during the D.C. Board Games this past weekend. In the first few games, missing some of their top performers, the Mustangs relied on their younger players, once using a pair of incoming freshmen in a critical situation. Then in Sunday's 52-26 title game victory over Bullis, center Uche Echefu and forward Herb Pope returned to Montrose's lineup from a summer basketball camp, creating a talented inside combination.
"They played great," said Vetter, who normally maintains a stoic demeanor on the sideline. "They came in and the energy they brought to the team was dramatic. It didn't look like they had been at camp all week."
Echefu, a 6-9 rising senior, averaged 13.3 points last season and is considered a top college prospect. Pope, a 6-8 rising sophomore, averaged 3.8 points as a reserve but is expected to have a larger role this season.
Westfield Girls Top Madison
The Westfield girls' basketball team may have lost three starters from the team that advanced to the Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinals last season, but Coach Pat Deegan isn't too worried.
The Bulldogs won the Westfield Downtown Athletic Summer League Division I championship with a 72-52 victory over Madison, the team that ended Westfield's season in the region semifinals. Rising senior guard Jessica Honesty scored 26 points and rising senior guard MaryLynne Schaefer made four three-pointers among her 19 points for Westfield. Both teams finished the summer leagues with 10-2 records.
"What the summer league tells us is that we're moving in the right direction," Deegan said.
Broad Run defeated Flint Hill, 45-38, to capture the league's Division II title.