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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Boys varsity basketball cruises to DCIAA Semi-finals in win over McKinley Tech

The Tigers tip off at home against Dunbar on Thursday.

For the boys’ varsity basketball team, it only took 16 minutes to make a statement. In crushing fashion, the Tigers cruised to victory in the DCIAA Quarterfinals over McKinley Tech High School on Tuesday, 61-34.  

The Tigers will look to continue their momentum and build off of this win on Thursday against Dunbar High School at home. 

From the opening tip, the Tigers were on a mission. Finding stops on defense translated to offense, which proved to be too much for the McKinley Tech Trainers. 

Throughout the first quarter, the Tigers only managed to hold a four point lead. The Trainers were able to stay in striking range with turnovers and poor execution that loomed over the Tigers in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the struggles continued for the Tigers, as they couldn’t minimize mistakes and committed a game total of ten turnovers.

“[Tuesday] was very slow for us offensively and we weren’t really making the shots,” said senior point guard Justin Gilmore. “We knew we had the size advantage and continued to get downhill and attack the rim.” 

The Tigers went into halftime with the lead, but looked to clean up a sloppy first half, despite them being up 30-15. At halftime, head coach David “Tee” Johnson urged his players to keep their heads in the game. “They weren’t satisfied with our play. You could see it in the guys’ body language, with their aura,” he said. “I just had to remind them that we were still winning the game, and told them to continue to keep doing what got us to this point.” 

The Tigers came out of the second half rejuvenated with energy on both ends of the floor. The Trainers, who had life after hanging around with the Tigers, began to slow down and the adjustments the Tigers made at the break carried them to victory.  “The only adjustments we made were effort and attention to detail,” said Gilmore, who had seven points and two assists on three of four shooting. “We already had the game plan of what to do. We just needed to execute it.” 

That came with shaky shooting, which improved in the second half where the Tigers shot 45%. The lead was increased to 47-25 in the third quarter, and then 61-34 to end the game.  Senior point guards Lucas Sekasi and Joe McRae had 10 and 11 points respectively. McRae added on four steals, five assists, and two rebounds as well. The Tigers only allowed 16 points in the second half, knocking off the Trainers (17-11, 9-7 in DCIAA) and eliminating them from the DCIAA playoffs.  

Junior small forward Jayden Fort led the way with 18 points and 16 rebounds. “I think I just came out and did what I was good at. I was trying to be more active around the ball, and things came to me,” said Fort, who went 9 for 17 on Tuesday. “I’m trying to be more aggressive because in the playoffs we’re going to need more from me to get over the hump in the big games [like DC state games] Gonzaga or Sidwell. I was just trying to form my game to what we needed.” 

On Tuesday, one difference was Fort becoming more ball dominant, which included facilitating and bringing the ball up the court on offense.

Despite the win, the Tigers are continuing the mindset one thing at a time. 

“If we keep looking ahead, we’re going to skip past opponents in front of us,” said Fort. “I think that taking it one game at a time allows us to focus, and do what we need to go win.” 

On Thursday, the #1 seed Tigers will play #5 Dunbar High School (15-10, 9-4) in the second round of the DCIAA playoffs. The Tigers were eliminated a year ago against Bard in this very round. To get past the second round, and to book a ticket to the DCIAA city championship at Coolidge, the team message is: “1-0 mentally, continue to just fight, nothings guaranteed, every team will come and give us their best game because we’ve earned that respect, everyone wants to beat us,” said coach Tee.

The Crimson Tide are notably coming off of a four-overtime game against #4 Roosevelt from Tuesday night. The Tigers (30-2, 15-0) and Tide last met on December 20, which resulted in a 64-33 Tigers win. 

The DCIAA Semi Final tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday evening at JR. “[We] just need to continue to be who we are. Defense first, points are going to come, share the ball, trust each other, and keep doing what we do well,” said coach Tee.

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About the Contributor
Justin Glenn
Justin Glenn, 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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