Before the frenzy that was Saturday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinals, when two of the top four seeds fell, it was DeMatha that had first disrupted the order of this year’s conference hierarchy, soaring up the standings with wins against O’Connell, Paul VI and St. John’s in the final week of the regular season.
Entering Sunday’s semifinal against an upstart Bishop Ireton team, DeMatha proved unfazed by all the upsets, riding the poised play of junior point guard Terrell Allen and the contribution of 12 different scorers to a 70-36 win at American University’s Bender Arena. In a rematch of the 2012 WCAC final, the Stags will next face Paul VI, which easily defeated McNamara, 67-41, in Sunday’s other semifinal.
As one of two floor generals for DeMatha’s deep roster, Allen’s approach is to get his teammates going before attempting to showcase his smooth offensive skills. So when Allen drained a deep three-pointer late in the first quarter, it came after the rest of DeMatha’s starters had scored a bucket and just before Ireton called its first timeout to slow down the Stags’ early momentum.
Allen then scored eight of the team’s next 12 points, with the last basket sparking DeMatha to a critical 12-2 third-quarter run that extended its lead to 37-18.
“Big-time players show up in the playoffs, and in our first two playoff games, Terrell has been playing great and carving out his niche at the point guard spot,” Stags Coach Mike Jones said.
In reaching its fifth WCAC final in the last six years, DeMatha (27-3) captivated the crowd with several high-flying dunks by Thomas Bruce and D.J. Harvey, elevating the tempo against the Cardinals’ typically methodical attack.
Cardinals senior Patrick Moseh (15 points) worked both inside and outside to keep his team close, but it wasn’t enough to combat the Stags’ array of powerful post players and sound shooters to stretch the zone defense of Ireton (18-13).
“We’ve been getting out on the run and picking up our defense, and that gets us going,” said Allen, who finished with a team-high 11 points. “We’ve been on a mission to get back to the championship.”
With that goal accomplished, the Stags will prep for Paul VI (24-6), which relied on similar depth and athletic play to impose its will upon McNamara from the outset.
With Kevin Dorsey (18 points) setting the tone through his strong drives to the rim, the Panthers aggressively attacked McNamara on both ends of the floor, building a 20-2 first-quarter lead that quickly extinguished any hopes of McNamara building off Saturday’s upset of top-ranked St. John’s.
“We were mindful of what could happen if we didn’t get out early and play to our ability,” Dorsey said. “So we were real focused coming in to the game and wanted to make sure we got out on their shooters to let our defense get us going on offense.”
With McNamara (15-16) threatening to rally behind the play of Jamar Watson, the Panthers responded with an 8-0 run just before halftime that pushed the lead back to 19 points. The play off the bench of Curtis Jones, Tyler Scanlon and Aaron Thompson helped open up a 11-0 run in the third quarter, positioning the Panthers for a return trip to the title game they won in 2012.