Christian Matthews collected the rebound, looked up and saw the red jerseys streaking down court. Exactly who was there was of little concern because when there’s a fast-break opportunity, the National Christian senior takes it. This time, the one-handed full-court pass made its way to Terrance Lewis, who caught the ball in stride and put in the go-ahead bucket early in the third quarter.
“That’s one of our strong points in our game. We like to run,” Matthews said after the Eagles’ 62-40 win over Middleburg Academy in Wednesday’s Capital Beltway final. “We like to push the ball, and my teammates like to run the wing.”
Matthews, named tournament MVP, had an assortment of half-court, full-court and no-look passes to go along with his 15 points and crowd-pleasing dunks. Senior Mohammed Kabir, celebrating his 19th birthday, scored a team-high 21 points and was named finals MVP.
That senior duo carried No. 3 National Christian (30-2) on Wednesday at Prince George’s Community College in Largo just as it had all season. After both teams were held scoreless through the opening three minutes, Matthews broke the ice on a one-handed slam. Moments later, the Georgia Tech commit connected with Kabir with an alley-oop pass from midcourt.
“Six days a week at practice. We work together, win together, lose together,” Matthews said. “We try different stuff at practice, crazy trick passes. It just clicked.”
Middleburg (23-12) fell behind 11-6 after the first quarter with the area’s leading three-point shooter, AJ Robinson (six points), struggling to get going from distance. The senior hit the first of his two threes on a bank shot that helped the Dragons go into halftime tied at 20.
But the second half was all National Christian. Matthews’s full-court pass to Lewis gave the Eagles their first lead of the third quarter, and they extended the advantage to 37-28 going into the final period.
National Christian senior guard Timothy Bing (10 points) helped pad the lead, and Kabir’s emphatic putback slam late in the fourth put an exclamation point on the victory.
A year after losing to Clinton Christian in the 2015 Capital Beltway final, the Eagles proudly held up the championship trophy while posing for pictures and dancing on the Novak Fieldhouse floor.
“It’s probably one of the greatest days of my life because we won the championship,” Kabir said. “It’s one of the greatest things to ever happen to me since I started playing basketball.”