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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

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Jackson-Reed Boys Basketball reaches 21st in ESPN’s Top-25 national rankings

The Tigers tip off on the road against Cardozo on Monday.
TIMEOUT HUDDLE: The Tigers during a timeout at Bowie State University for the Dream MLK Classic.

Dominating competition both regionally and nationally draws waves of attention from many eyes. As the month of January has progressed, the Jackson-Reed boys varsity basketball team have continued their domination. The team sits 22-2 with two and a half weeks left in the regular season. Looking to close out the month, the Tigers have cracked ESPN’s top-25 High School boys Basketball Rankings, placing 21st best in the country.

On January 12, the Tigers traveled to Bowie State University for a two-game series in the Dream Classic over MLK weekend. The 27-point blowout over 14th ranked Wasatch Academy (UT) propelled the Tigers to the national spotlight, 69-40. Senior small forward Scottie Hubbard led the way with 23 points, on six of seven shooting behind the three point line. 

“[It’s] staying in the gym, sticking to what I’ve been doing the whole season,” Hubbard said, speaking of what has worked. The senior also credits his teammates. “When I’m on the floor they find me in open spots, and I’m just not going to shut down [shooting the ball].”

On January 15, the Tigers continued their MLK series with a win over Berkmar High School (GA), 71-42. Senior power forward Kai Settles anchored the team with 13 points and six rebounds in another blowout, this time over the Patriots. Initially, Settles’ shot wouldn’t fall, but he kept shooting to find rhythm. “I kept shooting and started seeing the ball go in. That brought confidence to all aspects of my game, which allowed me to rebound and provide a lot of hustle for the team.”  

Asserting themselves as one of the top powerhouse programs in the DMV, the Tigers have found success through their chemistry which has built confidence. “For us, we’re starting to play more as a team, which is really bringing more confidence to everyone. The ball is moving, people are motivating each other instead of bringing each other down and we’re all gaining confidence as each game goes on,” said Settles. 

Although the Tigers are nationally ranked, the team is still focused on the bigger picture. “We as a team are very proud of being ranked top-25 and we feel like we deserve it. But even though we’re ranked, the job isn’t done yet. As much as it is an accomplishment, our goal is to win [the DCSAA] states,” Settles continued.

PREGAME: The Tigers ahead of a matchup against Archbishop Ryan (PA.)

An abundance of credit goes to finding success on defense, which has led to creating opportunities on the opposite end of the floor offensively. “Sticking together as a group and buying into playing for each other, and playing stingy defense like Coach Tee coaches us to do [has worked],” said senior point guard Lucas Sekasi. “Our defense, our communication, he’s been heavy on that,” added junior small forward Jayden Fort. “We’re trying to hold teams to a certain amount of points, so regardless if we’re not scoring, they’re not scoring. Defense wins championships, so we emphasize that.” 

The Tigers have blown out their opponents by 20 or more points 17 times this season, which they’ve done in each of the eight DCIAA conference games, most recently against Banneker, Bell, and Bard, who the Tigers lost to in the DCIAA semi final last year. In addition, the Tigers have held teams to under 45 points 14 times since the start of the season. 

“You rise to the level of your training [and] you prepare with tough games,” said Head Coach David “Tee” Johnson. “We know we’ll have tough games in the states, but in order [to get better] you have to prepare for that. We try to make practice as tough as possible, so we’re used to the conditions.” 

Being nationally ranked for the first time in school history, “we have to keep working and keep our heads down by discipline and staying humble,” said senior Scottie Hubbard.

Riding a nine game win streak, coach Tee would like his players to stay consistent despite the attention. “Just guys not getting comfortable and guys continuing to work hard, not getting too high or low.” Players are beginning to believe that this is the season where the Tigers can win a DCSAA championship. “I think the [January 3rd] win against Bullis showed how good we can be.” 

The road ahead for the Tigers features two more classics: the HoopBuzz Invitational in Oxon Hill, Md., and the Riverdale Baptist Showcase in Upper Marlboro, Md. Throughout the remainder of the season, the Tigers will compete in four more DCIAA conference games. At Jackson-Reed they’ll take on Ron Brown, and have senior night against Coolidge. The remaining road schedule features Cardozo and Anacostia.

TIGERS ON-COURT: Senior Scottie Hubbard attempting a three point shot against Gonzaga College High School on Dec. 10.

The Tigers know there is still a long road ahead in order to hoist championship trophies, but they’ll do it with an expanded, but deserved spotlight. “The more together and united we are the better,” said Assistant Coach Danny Larios-Joya. “To the back of the bench coach to everyone, [two and a half] weeks left it’s going to take everybody, through our effort and energy to play it out.” “We as a team will stay humble and keep working hard to hang a banner up at the end of the season,” added the senior Settles. “[We will] play every game like it’s our last, because we never know what could happen.”

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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: Assistaant Sports Editor
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