But the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association power showed again that it does not let up, does not take games off.
With the No. 1 seed in the DCIAA already locked up, the Rough Riders delivered another unrelenting effort in a 70-40 win over the overmatched Spartans. They followed every shot with reckless abandon, crashed the boards for defensive rebounds, chased down loose balls and stepped in front of West Springfield passes.
They drove hard to the basket as if the game was on the line even if the scoreboard showed a double-digit lead.
“For this program, it doesn’t matter if we are playing in summer league, nonconference or a scrimmage, it means everything to us,” Roosevelt Coach Rob Nickens said. “We preach the importance of every game year-round, so they understand and perform everyday like it’s the most important game of their season.”
The first quarter was something less than pretty. The Rough Riders (26-1) trailed 8-2 when Nickens gathered his players in a half-circle, locked eyes with each one and laid into the team about its lack of effort.
“For whatever reason, we just came out flat tonight and coach let us know about it,” junior Keyon Ware said. “Our fans at ‘The Milkhouse’ are so good to us, so playing like that is just unacceptable. So after the first we kind just had to look inside ourselves and get back to doing what we do.”
Following the lecture, Roosevelt dramatically turned up its intensity on defense. The Spartans (5-14) struggled to react, repeatedly committing turnovers. Behind 11 points from junior Jasir Tremble, Roosevelt outscored the Spartans 68-32 the rest of the way.
West Springfield received a 16-point performance from sophomore standout Gibraltar Coleman, but struggled elsewhere.
“This season has been tough one because it feels like we’ve left some games out there that we were capable of winning,” West Springfield assistant Tim Zanellato said. “But you are what your record says.”