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JR Boys Basketball: Tigers sweep weekend series in James Hampton Showcase

The team will tip off against Archbishop Ryan in the Gonzaga DC Classic on Friday.

When it comes to taking care of business on a marquee stage, look no further than the Jackson-Reed Boys varsity basketball team. 

The Tigers competed in the first annual James Hampton Showcase at Coolidge High School over the weekend, and went undefeated, sweeping both West Philadelphia and Achievement First High School by the scores of 79-55, and 72-36.

West Philly:

In their season-opener, the Tigers found success finishing around the rim, and playing with a stifling defensive edge. 40 of the team’s 79 points came within the three-point line, with the Tigers shooting at a 49 percent clip from the field overall. 

After finishing the first half with a 35-34 lead, the Tigers saw defensive success in the second half. The third quarter deficit increased to five points at 56-51, which set up a crucial fourth quarter. However, the Tigers continued to tighten the bolts defensively, only allowing two SpeedBoys points in the fourth quarter to eventually decide the game. 

The Tigers went on a 23-point run, holding West Philly to their first points of the fourth at the 4:25 mark, which came at the free-throw line. The scoring drought enforced by the Tigers made it frustrating for West Philly (0-2), to the point where the SpeedBoys surrendered with one minute and 17 seconds left on the game clock.  

Junior small forward JJ Massaquoi led the way with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds against the SpeedBoys in a dominant performance. “I was just trying to be physical and listen to coach [Tee] about dominating the paint. He put a big emphasis on that,” Massaquoi said. 

The DeMatha transfer in his season debut as a Tiger led all scorers in total points on Saturday. “[It] was simply my teammates finding me in the right spots to be efficient,” he continued. Massaquoi was named game MVP Saturday night. The junior called his performance “great, and I’m excited to keep it pushing as a Tiger.” 

Achievement First:

On Sunday, the Tigers took on the Achievement Panthers, looking to build off of the season-opening victory. The Tigers once again dominated, this time shooting 52 percent from the field, and notably holding Achievement First to their first basket at the 4:25 mark of the first quarter. The Tigers were on cruise control and widened the margin to 54-23 at halftime. With a running clock instituted in the third quarter due to the score, the Tigers clawed the Panthers in a smokeshow, 72-36. 

Junior small forward Jayden Fort finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Fort was named game two’s MVP to finish the weekend at Coolidge. “It was good,” he said, but Fort looked at Sunday’s 36-point blowout differently, stating “we [simply] could’ve played slightly better.”

Tigers head coach David “Tee” Johnson called the past weekend “solid. [But] we have to find a way to make sure these guys have energy and effort all the time.” 

The Tigers understand it’s difficult to remain consistent on a daily basis. However, “I’m seeing these guys start to try and be more consistent in their efforts and relationships,” added Coach Tee. “That’s what matters most. Good teams have good chemistry, and want to work together. I like the consistent effort to try and play together to be a team,” he said. 

The Tigers had 17 assists on Sunday. “It’s a real brotherhood between us [with] real camaraderie,” added senior point guard Justin Gilmore. “[But] we have to do a better job at holding each other accountable.” The team is forming real chemistry by the day, “everyone is here for each other, and happy when others succeed. It’s a real ‘we over me’ team,” said Gilmore, who contributed 18 total points across the two games. 

Despite sweeping the weekend, the Tigers still believe there’s room for improvement over the course of practice this week, starting on defense.  

“Definitely with [West Philly] we started slow, and [we] let a team we’re better than play harder than us and control the game,” said senior small forward Scottie Hubbard, who contributed 26 total points over the past weekend. “We have to focus on the little things in practice: diving on, [and taking care of] the ball, boxing out, rotating [and our] free throws,” which the Tigers shot 71 percent at the line on Sunday.

“We [also] have to improve on how much we talk and communicate, and how hard we’re playing,” said Coach Tee. “We can’t have slow starts versus good teams, or that will come back to bite us. This week we’re going to shore up our defense, and be able to execute plays [better],” Coach Tee continued. 

“Everyone has to be in-tuned with what’s going on and locked-in, in order for us to be as good as we want to be.” 

One difference from Sunday versus Saturday’s game was finding a way to get everyone involved. All but two players scored in game two against the Achievement Panthers. “It’s very important. I tell the guys all the time, ‘[you’re] as good as the last guy on our bench,’ added Coach Tee. 

With this season featuring new additions to the team, “guys are still learning their roles, [as] this is a fairly new group. We’re figuring each and everyone out. Once we gel, [we’re] going to be better.” 

An additional positive is: “we’re forcing teams to turn the ball over, and take tough shots,” said assistant coach Elvin Jackson. “The games next week are going to be even harder. The work starts [in practice as] our energy will have to pick up,” he said. 

Now leaving the weekend behind, the Tigers are thankful for their time in the showcase, even on a personal level. “It means a lot,” said coach Tee. “James Hampton was a guy that my dad coached and grew up under me. It means a lot to play in his name, and to keep his name relevant, and trenched in the basketball community in DC.” 

Up next for the Tigers is a crosstown trip to Gonzaga High School, to compete in the 34th annual Gonzaga DC Classic. The tournament is a knockout format, where if you win on Friday, you advance to Saturday, then with a win you advance to the championship on Sunday. 

The Tigers (2-0) will take on Archbishop Ryan High School, Friday at 8:30 pm. Although the Raiders (1-0) are ranked 31st in the country in MaxPreps’ national rankings, the Tigers are ready for the challenge. 

“What our coaches tell us, we have to apply, so everything can fall into place,” said Fort. “Our coaches prepare us for these national series. We work hard in practice everyday [and] we don’t take any days off. [This past weekend is steps] towards a city and state championship.” Gilmore added, “we’re just going to go hard in practice and clean up the little things.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Glenn, Assistant Sports Editor
Justin is a sports fanatic.. you’ll most likely see him with a baseball cap of some sort throughout the hallways. If he isn’t writing about high school sports, he’s likely watching a D.C. sports team, NASCAR or some other professional league in his free time. Outside of sports, he enjoys the outdoors and watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, besides that, he’s an average out-going person.
  • 2023-24: Assistant Sports Editor
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