In the final minute of the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I boys’ basketball title game, Episcopal guard Nick Reed turned his glance to fellow senior captain Edwin Ebube and let the emotions pour out.
While the Maroon was polishing off a 67-63 win over Paul VI at the free throw line Saturday at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Reed was getting misty.
He came to the Alexandria boarding school from Louisville in search of more exposure. With a team-high 21 points and a fourth-quarter three-pointer that gave No. 11 Episcopal the lead in a back-and-forth game, the University of Rochester recruit led the Maroon to its first VISAA title in 17 years. With the state championship, Reed capped off a two-year stint that also included back-to-back IAC titles.
“I have to admit, there was one or two tears rolling down,” Reed said. “I’ve only been there two years, but it’s been the best two years of my life.”
Reed stepped up on Saturday, but Episcopal (25-4) was able to down star-studded Paul VI (19-12) with the well-rounded team play it showcased all season.
Ebube scored 12 points and defended 6-foot-8 Pittsburgh signee Corey Manigault. Junior George Mawanda-Kalema scored 13, and freshman point guard Xavier Johnson had 10 points while staying cool at the line late in the game.
“The sum of the parts was always the best thing about this group,” Coach Jim Fitzpatrick said. “High school teams always have the chance that they’ll falter, they’ll break. This group never did.”
Reed said the returning talent raised expectations for Episcopal (25-4) this season, but the team’s trust made it special. Teammates critiqued each other on the floor, and seniors who didn’t play as much as Reed and Ebube weren’t afraid to offer tips during timeouts.
When it came time to cry, Reed said he was so emotional because of how his team won.
“It was a real team effort tonight,” he said. “We did it the right way.”
While Episcopal’s season is over, Paul VI will continue its campaign at the Alhambra Cathoic Invitational Tournament.
No. 1 Paul VI won its 10th straight VISAA girls’ basketball title in the Division I final with a 67-57 win over O’Connell on Saturday at Richard Bland University in Petersburg.
Sophomore Kate Klimkiewicz led the Panthers (33-1) with 16 points. Classmate Mimi Collins added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Paul VI finishes its season with a new team record for wins and three straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships.