With three DeMatha players occupied by free throw duties, seniors Hunter Dickinson and Earl Timberlake were the only Stags left floating in the open space near midcourt. With one minute remaining in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game and No. 1 DeMatha holding a double-digit lead over No. 3 Paul VI, it felt safe to start acknowledging the moment.
The 7-foot-2 Dickinson leaned down and put his head next to Timberlake’s, speaking quietly to his teammate under the roar of the joyous Stags fans who had packed into American University’s Bender Arena. They only grew louder moments later when the buzzer sounded on a 70-56 victory.
“This is what we’ve been working for,” Timberlake said. “This is it. This is everything we’ve been working for, playing together. All the late nights. Everything.”
It’s the Stags’ second title in three seasons; Dickinson and Timberlake were also both part of the 2018 championship team. While they were major contributors to that squad as sophomores, the pair felt a responsibility for this group in their senior seasons.
“We feel like we had to,” Dickinson said. “It’s been passed down to us. It’s in you. It’s part of that DeMatha legacy. It passes down, the generational knowledge of leaders.”
Paul VI (23-8), a team without the size to match Dickinson but the speed to run right past him, failed to control the tempo of the game and, in turn, take the big man out of it.
The senior, a terror in this conference for the past four years, closed out his time in the WCAC with one last physical performance. He finished with 10 points after the Stags (30-3) led for the entirety of the night.
Timberlake contributed a little bit of everything, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five blocks. The Miami commit joined the Stags in the summer of 2017, a sophomore transfer from Rock Creek Christian. By Monday night, in the whirlwind of his second WCAC final, he looked like the most comfortable player on the court. He will leave the conference as a two-time champion.
“It was a blessing to come here,” Timberlake said. “I put this jersey on with pride before every single game. That’s why I play my hardest.”
The DeMatha legacy that weighed so heavily on this pair of seniors now includes a 41st conference championship. For Coach Mike Jones, Monday’s victory also represented a personal milestone: 500 wins.
“That’s a great way to start the decade,” Jones said afterward, surrounded by Stags fans. “And we’re excited to see what happens next.”