“We just improve our skill sets every day,” Coach Shayla Williams said. “Stay hungry, want to get better every day — in order for us to stay at the elite level we’re at now, we have to work.”
The D.C. State Athletic Association tournament, beginning Feb. 25, is up next.
Dunbar point guard Zyaire Hairston was named DCIAA tournament MVP for the second straight year, finishing Sunday’s game with 15 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
“I’m the point guard. I get my team going,” Hairston said. “I’m not worried about myself scoring. I’m worried about getting others involved into the game.”
In last year’s championship win over Wilson, Hairston scored 17 points and defended league player of the year Tara Cousins.
Hairston was keenly aware that on the opposite end of the floor Sunday was again the league’s player of the year in Banneker’s Alyson Jefferson.
The plan for Dunbar was to play a box-and-one on defense, denying Jefferson the ball and challenging her on every drive to the basket. Jefferson finished with 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting. The loose balls she gathered on dives throughout both halves did not show up on the scoresheet but spoke to her role as Banneker’s motor throughout the season.
“Alyson Jefferson is one of the most passionate and driven kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Bulldogs Coach Abby Sondak said.
Jefferson, a senior, ignited Banneker (14-7) not only to an 11-2 league record but also a 75-48 victory over Eastern in the semifinals Saturday, avenging a 13-point loss from December.
Preparing for Dunbar was another huge task. The Tide beat the Bulldogs, 58-29, on Jan. 13.
Sunday’s final was a battle between teams enjoying the benefit of a long building process. Four years ago, Dunbar won just one league game. Banneker wasn’t even a full league member.