Friendship Collegiate senior Alani Moore glanced at the parents pounding on the glass and back at the police escorting his teammates off the premises, and his eye roll suggested he knew how this all must look. It was just another episode in an eventful winter for the All-Met point guard, one that has featured forfeits and, on this night, a near brawl during a postgame scrum with several fans.
But Tuesday also brought good news, beyond Friendship Collegiate’s 69-64 overtime victory at IDEA. After a lengthy residency eligibility investigation, the Knights learned hours before tipoff that two more of Moore’s former Montrose Christian teammates had been cleared to play by the Office of the State Superintendant of Education. Moore welcomed them back by announcing the Knights’ presence in the D.C. Public Charter School Athletic Association race.
He scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the extra frame, allowing the Knights to pull away from the defending league champions in Northeast Washington.
IDEA put up a resilient effort playing without leading scorers Daryl Bones and Tunde Scrivner, and held Friendship Collegiate (2-9, 2-1 PCSAA) to just one field goal during the entire fourth quarter. The Timberwolves then sent the contest to overtime, tying the score at 54 on a free throw with 8.8 seconds left.
But IDEA (12-11, 1-4) wore down eventually, despite 15 points from forward Kierell Green, when three starters fouled out by the end of the game. Moore, meanwhile, started the overtime session with a lay-in off the tip and drained a three-pointer less than two minutes later. The Temple recruit then finished a three-point-play off a backdoor cut with less than a minute to go to give the Knights the lead for good.
“I just wanted to get the game over with,” said Moore, who also created havoc defensively with several steals.
IDEA Coach James Pope would not disclose the reason for Bones and Scrivner’s absence.
The addition of Thomas, a 6-foot-8 forward, provided immediate dividends. He chipped in eight points, snatched rebounds, blocked shots and ignited Moore’s fastbreaks during crunch time.
Thomas’s eligibility had become a point of contention in recent months, particularly once Friendship Collegiate used him and Okwara during holiday tournament games last month. The Knights were subsequently forced to forfeit those games for using ineligible players, in addition to several early-season games that were cancelled for various reasons.
“It’s a big plus,” Moore said about the addition of Thomas. “He was a key player for us.”
Which is why Moore hardly blinked an eye while Knights Coach Bryan Bartley barked out orders, trying to get his team back to the bus before it got entangled in a full-fledged fight. For the first time all winter, things are finally looking up at Friendship Collegiate.