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Boys’ Varsity Basketball DCSAA States Preview: The Road back to GW

Tigers tip off at home against Dunbar on Wednesday.
Nate Watson
PREGAME HUDDLE: The Tigers huddled pregame ahead of their DCIAA championship game against Cardozo High School from February 17.

With their heads hanging low and confetti flying at George Washington University, the boys’ varsity basketball team knew they had missed an opportunity last March. 

A feel good 28-8 season ended abruptly in heartbreak, in a state final loss to Sidwell Friends, 62-47. Four consecutive state final appearances have ended in losses to city rival programs of Sidwell three times, and once to Gonzaga. It’s been the hard reality pill the Tigers have had to swallow in recent years.

“Last year we got all the way to the championship and put ourselves in position, but we just didn’t perform,” said senior point guard Lucas Sekasi. The last time Jackson-Reed hoisted a state title was in 2017 in a win over St. John’s, 66-64. In the 2023-24 season though, the team is notably riding a hot rod of momentum after winning the DCIAA championship over Cardozo on February 17.

Since GW, 11 months and 24 days later, the difference this season has been experience. To say the Tigers have just been good, or have only beat up on lesser programs this year are bonafide understatements, and can largely be seen as disrespectful. Setting school records, beating some of the country’s best programs, national and regional traveling, winning a conference championship for the fifth time in seven seasons, and being ranked on ESPN’s Top-25 since January at 23rd best in the country, have cemented the Tigers as the 1 seed in the DCSAA bracket.

PREGAME SPEECH: Head Coach David “Tee” Johnson giving a pregame speech to his players ahead of playing against Cardozo High School in the DCIAA Championship on February 17.

“This year with our schedule, we have been through the fire. We all believe in each other and our coaching staff,” said Sekasi. “It started from practice, 6 am in the summertime, we were really working hard,” added senior point guard Joe McRae. “Us players are around each other all the time, so it helps when we get on the court.” 

The Tigers (32-2) in their bracket, start tonight with a matchup against the 9 seed Dunbar High School (17-11). The Dunbar Crimson Tide beat 8 seed Friendship Tech Prep in double-overtime, 60-58 on Tuesday night. With a Tiger win against the Crimson Tide, the team will advance to the semi-final against the winner of 4 seed St. John’s and 5 seed Roosevelt at McDonough Arena, at Georgetown University on Friday, at 5 pm.

With a Friday night second round win, it would mean the Tigers would be back at George Washington University, in the Charles E. Smith Center, with a chance at a state title. If all goes well, they’ll match up against an opponent headlined by opposite bracket heavyweights, 2 seed Gonzaga and 3 seed Sidwell Friends. 

In order to get there, the Tigers will continue their philosophy they’ve held all season: take things one day, and one game at a time, even with preparation. “A lot of film, a lot of watching what other teams do,” said head coach David “Tee” Johnson.  A part of that prep is, “keeping them humble and as graceful as possible,” added coach Tee. “Just trying to make sure the guys know, we’ve got one game, don’t look past the opponent and handle one game at a time.”

“We have to be ready to win the first one, whoever that first home game is, we have to win that one,” added coach Tee. 

PHASE TWO: The Tigers begin the second stint of their “Run it Back” season against Dunbar High School on Wednesday.

The Tigers coming off their first round bye, will be against the Crimson Tide in the DCSAA Quarterfinals, Wednesday evening with tip off set for 6 pm. This will be the final game of the 2023-24 season for the Tigers at home this winter. The Tigers and Tide have met twice prior this season, both resulting in wins for JR, on Dec. 20, 64-33, and on Feb. 15, where the Tide were eliminated by the Tigers in the DCIAA Semifinals, 73-28. 

The biggest basketball stage in DC where the city’s best programs collide is in full effect. “We just gotta lock-in, and just have to come together as a team,” said junior small forward Jayden Fort. “It will take all of us being one team, and together, we can’t win states with just one guy. As long as we stay together as a team, we’ll stay the course and keep dominating,” added junior small forward JJ Massaquoi.

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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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