With more than a week to reflect on the fairy tale ending to his team’s undefeated season, H.D. Woodson boys’ basketball Coach Trey Mines has a different perspective on this historic run than most. Considering the challenges his players were to able to mask every time they stepped on the floor for a game this winter, what they achieved is even more astonishing to him.
“The struggles that we had, not necessarily on the court, but some of the things we had to get through off the court to continue to make this possible, it wasn’t peachy like everyone wants to look at it,” Mines said. “But we always found a way to bring it together on the court and stay together through the little issues we had off the court.
“To be able to come out 33 games straight and not lay down and not let one slip is probably the best thing I’ll remember. It’s a tremendous accomplishment to not let anything get in the way of your ultimate mission.”
For all those reasons, Woodson (33-0) will finish the season atop The Washington Post’s boys’ basketball poll for the first time in school history. The Warriors are the first D.C. public school to finish with the No. 1 ranking since Spingarn in 2000, a fitting honor for a team that is also the first city public to go undefeated since 1985.
They capped off this campaign by winning a second straight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association title and then capturing the D.C. State Athletic Association championship. Woodson appeared in the national rankings as a result, and even turned down an invitation to participate in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals later this month in Brooklyn.
But it was the Warriors’ semifinal victory in the DCSAA tournament that will go down as the defining moment of this season. They erased an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to beat Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powerhouse Gonzaga, 105-102, in double overtime at Verizon Center. In that game and throughout the season, a six-man rotation that fit so well together came through in the clutch.
This year, Woodson featured two-time DCIAA player of the year Antwan Walker and he got reinforcements from dynamic Dunbar transfers Kiyon Boyd and Derquan Washington. Seniors Tamontae Chambliss and Clenteous McCoy provided outside shooting and steady point guard play, respectively. Senior forward Kavon Montgomery played rugged defense and grabbed countless rebounds.
“The coaches kept us level-headed even when we saw ourselves getting a little big-headed,” Boyd said. “Us being undefeated, they did their best job keeping us level-headed and not letting us get too far away from ourselves. It was a family. We stuck together the whole season.”
After that Gonzaga game, Montgomery was grazed in the back by a bullet near his Northeast Washington home only to return to the court three days later and score Woodson’s first basket of the DCSAA title game. Though the incident received plenty of media attention, it was only the final hurdle these Warriors had to overcome, according to Mines.
If anything, this group’s mental toughness, more than its basketball skills, is what left an impression on a region that initially doubted whether Woodson was as good as its record suggested. But through it all, they just kept winning game after game and ultimately forced their way into the conversation among some of the greatest Washington area high school basketball teams of all-time.
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