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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Boys’ varsity basketball advances to DCIAA Championship in win over Dunbar

The Tigers tip off at Coolidge High School against Cardozo on Saturday.

Taking care of business at home is something familiar to the boys’ varsity basketball team. On Thursday evening the Tigers did just that, rolling the Crimson Tide of Dunbar High School, 73-28. 

The Tigers hosted their second home game of the DCIAA playoffs, in the second round Thursday night against Dunbar. After gaining yet another victory after their Tuesday night win against McKinley Tech, the Tigers look to hoist the DCIAA  championship trophy against Cardozo High School on Saturday. 

Thursday’s contest started off as a back and forth affair for the Tigers and Crimson Tide. The Tigers would make a basket andDunbar would respond with one of their own, with the first quarter ending 13-11. 

Coming off of a four-overtime game against Roosevelt, the Crimson Tide (16-11, 11-5 in DCIAA) were only down two against the top-seeded Tigers at the end of the first, creating steam and momentum. At the start of the second quarter Dunbar took the lead 14-13, looking to start a run, as they caught a spark from behind the three point line. 

Early on for the Tigers, all 14 points came from around the basket inside the arc of the three-point line. The first three-pointer made by the Tigers came at the 4:26 mark of the 2nd, from senior point guard Justin Gilmore, one basket out of his 14 points, four assists, and two steals. This was the start of a dominant night for the Tigers, as they pulled ahead to a 13-point lead at the half, 33-20. 

“Defensely, at the half we weren’t satisfied with our play,” said head coach David “Tee” Johnson. “The guys woke up, and responded to the halftime talk.” 

“We were up 13, but we could’ve really been up 30. We just locked in on defense, because in the first quarter we kept going back and forth,” said senior small forward Micah Charles who had 11 points and five rebounds. “We locked in on defense, we were making our buckets, and went on a run.” 

The three from Gilmore, which took the lid off of the basket for the Tigers offensively, began to put Dunbar away. The Tigers lead grew to 23 points, and then to 30, causing the clock to run midway through the third quarter. Eight minutes later, the Tigers tamed the Tide, crushing them 73-28. 

“The city has been talking a lot, coach Tee told us to keep that in mind and take it personal,” said Charles. “To show them that they don’t belong with us, and that’s what we did.” The Tigers held the Tide to just eight second half points, in 16 minutes of basketball. The team philosophy all season has been letting defense create opportunities on the opposite end of the floor, on Thursday, that is what pulled the Tigers through to victory. 

“We play solid defense, we don’t reach and listen to the shot clock,” said senior point guard Joe McRae. “We have good big men who can rebound, and we pack the paint and close out.” 

Additionally, the Tigers found other ways to score, when shots weren’t falling outside the arc in the first half. “We know we have the size advantage at the rim. Not trying to tell those guys not to be jump-shooters, but when we can, force the ball to the rim,” said coach Tee. “Put every team at a disadvantage because we have the size.” 

A year ago, the Tigers were eliminated in the second round by Bard, but this time, the team advanced to the championship for the first time since winning it in the 2021-22 season. The difference: being humble and graceful. 

“Last year there wasn’t any grace walking into the game against Bard. That was a situation where we just got caught off the hook, and they got the best of us,” coach Tee said. “This year we’re making sure coming into every game, we prepare, stay steady and not look past any opponent.”

With their eyes set on bringing home a DCIAA championship on Saturday, the Tigers will target minimizing the little mistakes. “Sharing the ball, trusting each other, and celebrating each other. If we continue to do that, and we pull each other through adversity, I think our chances are even greater,” said coach Tee. “We’ve become more together, learning each other, and what we do on the court,” added the senior McRae. 

The #1 seeded Tigers (31-2, 16-0) are prepared for the challenge the #3 Cardozo Clerks (21-3, 13-2) will bring, after knocking off Banneker High School in their second round matchup. The Clerks and Tigers last met on January 29th, which resulted in a Tigers win 76-59, the closest in-conference result the Tigers have had all season. 

This time they’ll rematch for the 2023-24 DCIAA  championship. Tip off is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, at Coolidge High School. 

“It’s the championship, both teams are desperate, even with all our success, I’m going to try and keep the guys as desperate as possible,” coach Tee said. “This is something we need, we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Glenn
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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