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Boys’ varsity basketball wins DCIAA Championship

The team looks to bring home its first DCSAA title since 2017.
Instagram via @tenleytowndchoops
CITY CHAMPS: The Tigers post game in the locker room after beating Cardozo High School Saturday night.

The boys’ varsity basketball team’s “Run it Back” tour made a trip to Coolidge High School for the DCIAA championship on Saturday night. In a thrilling game, the Tigers beat Cardozo High School 66-52, bringing the city championship home to Tenleytown for the first time since the 2021-22 season. 

In a nail-biting 32 minutes of basketball, the matchup between the #1 seeded Tigers (32-2, 17-0 in DCIAA) and #3 Clerks (21-4, 13-3) didn’t fall any short of excitement. Two teams scraping to claim the title of champion after a long two and half months came down to the wire. 

The Tigers started off hot, pulling out to a ten point lead in the first quarter. The Clerks called a timeout just one minute and 36 seconds into the game. JR found stride pushing the ball up the court, and running in transition, which held the Clerks to their first basket at the 3:05 mark in the first quarter. Cardozo then began to see daylight, then only down four, 10-6 after the first eight minutes. 

To open the second, Cardozo began to make a run and the small lead the Tigers had vanished to only one point, 15-16, with seven minutes until halftime. The Tigers called timeout, and coming out of the 30-second break, the Clerks continued to heat up, knocking down shots and tying the game at 17 a piece. Turnovers began to build up, and the Clerks took advantage, taking their first lead of the night at 20-19 with three minutes until the break. After an offensive foul was called on the Tigers, the Clerks received the ball with time winding down in the half. With two seconds on the clock, the Clerks knocked down a three, going up 25-24 at halftime.

The Clerks handed the Tigers their first halftime deficit this postseason. “Coach Tee asked us how much we wanted to win the game, we knew how much we wanted [it],” said junior small forward Jayden Fort. “[We] just adjusted and came out strong.” 

SHOWTIME: Junior Small Forward Jayden Fort Rising for a dunk against Cardozo at Coolidge. (Nate Watson)

“We knew we were still in it, our defense wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be,” added senior small forward Scottie Hubbard, who had 11 points and five rebounds. “We knew our shots were going to fall, as long as we kept getting stops.” 

The Tigers came out of the half with energy, reminiscent of their prior wins over McKinley Tech and Dunbar. One thing the Tigers have emphasized is being a second half team to close out games. “When we were down at halftime, we were holding our heads down,” added senior point guard Joe McRae, who recorded eight points and six steals. “[Coach] Tee said ‘we still have two quarters left,’ and in practice we go through situations when things hit hard, and when adversity hits we always push through.”  

The Tigers held the Clerks to only six third quarter points, after JR took the lead off of a layup from junior small forward JJ Massaquoi. The early third quarter lead the Tigers regained then widened to 45-32. The Tigers’ shots began to fall, and the Clerks would continue to have no answer. The Clerks were out-scored by 17 in the second half, leading to the crowning of the Tigers as city champions, with a final score of 66-52. 

“All I did was listen to what coach Tee told me to do, I just executed his plan, that was all his doing,” said Massaquoi, who had 19 points, and nine rebounds was also named championship game MVP. “None of this is possible without him. Coach Tee ran some plays for me, my teammates trusted me with the ball, I just executed, I was just playing my role.” The junior was also named to the DCIAA all-league first team on Friday. 

The junior Fort was also named to the all-league first team, and had 17 points and 15 rebounds of his own. “I just ran the floor hard, and things just came to me, my team was throwing me lobs. I think I was just good offensively, could’ve done more but I’m glad we got the win,” he said. 

Two-time varsity DCIAA championship winning head coach, David “Tee” Johnson called Saturday night special. “Very grateful, everyone can’t be labeled a champion. It took hard work, consistency and dedication. We’re happy to bring a championship back to Tenleytown,” coach Tee said. 

VICTORY BATH: Head coach Tee Johnson getting a gatorade bath in the locker room. (Nate Watson)

“It’s us just being consistent as a group, a lot of it is just hope,” added Coach Tee. “You try to put a plan together and hope it works, and hope guys buy in. It’s been working, so we’re going to continue what we’ve been doing.” 

Officially rebounding from their loss a year ago in the Semi-final to Bard, the Tigers have completed phase one of their “Run it Back” 2023-24 season. Winning the DCIAA championship in five out of the last seven seasons. However, coming up at the end of this month, the DCSAA State tournament will take place, where the Tigers look to avenge last year’s state finals loss to Sidwell Friends. 

“We just need to keep taking it day by day, and winning everyday, buying into each other and coach Tee,” said senior point guard Lucas Sekasi, who was named to DCIAA all-league second team, after having eight points and seven rebounds.  “A new level of focus, we just have to be way better than we were [Saturday] night. We were good enough to win, but we have to be way better to win states,” coach Tee continued. “Just going to keep telling the guys, to reach a new level of focus, and to lock in more.”

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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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