With three returning starters and a handful of Division I recruits on its roster, Paul VI entered the season perched at or near the top of most local and national rankings. Still, Panthers Coach Glenn Farello and his players did their best to ignore outside projections.
“We took it as a compliment, but winning games and championships is hard and it doesn’t automatically come from being preseason number one,” Farello said. “So our motivation all year was, let’s go out and earn that number one ranking.”
By elevating its play down the stretch, Paul VI achieved a rare postseason sweep with title wins in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I and Alhambra Invitational tournaments, cementing its status as the area’s No. 1 boys’ basketball team for the second time in three years.
The Panthers posted a 31-6 record behind leading scorers Joshua Reaves, who earned WCAC tournament MVP honors, Kevin Dorsey, who was named Alhambra tournament MVP, and versatile Georgetown recruit Marcus Derrickson. Along the way, they notched wins against four teams that finished in the Post Top 20 and five opponents that were ranked nationally at one point this season.
“We just stayed focused,” Dorsey said. “Looking back on film, we saw some of the mistakes we were making and we fixed them so that our team defense got better.”
Wise used a similar late-season run to finish at No. 2. The Pumas capped their year with 20 straight wins, including a 27-point championship victory that amounted to the most lopsided Maryland 4A state final since its 1989 inception.
Riverdale Baptist triumphed in the inaugural Maryland Private Schools tournament, sealing a 30-win season and the No. 4 slot in the final rankings. The Crusaders finished just ahead of Bullis, which swept through IAC regular-season and postseason play to win its third straight conference title.