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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Boys’ varsity basketball looks to rebound in National Tournament

The Tigers tip off against Grayson on Wednesday.
Eli Schwartz
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Senior guard Justin Gilmore on-court against St. John’s from March 1st.

Not often in sports do you wake up to a record of 33-3. And not often does a public school program reach ESPN’s Top-25. Despite a bump in the road of a monumental season, falling short in the DCSAA state tournament to St. John’s, the boys’ varsity basketball team are still DCIAA champions, as a historic 2023-24 season soon begins its final leg. 

“The season was amazing, seeing how we were able to be the highest ranked team ever in school history,” said senior guard Justin Gilmore. “Although we weren’t able to completely finish the job by winning states, we are grateful to bring back the DCIAA championship to Tenleytown and put the school on a national radar known as one of the best public schools in the country.” 

This season, the Tigers blew out half of their opponents by 30-plus points, including Wasatch Academy (UT) and beat ESPN ranked #17 Bullis and top Maryland private schools Bishop McNamara, and Clinton Grace. Last month, JR won their fifth city title in seven seasons over Cardozo at Coolidge High School, 66-52. 

In the DCSAA state tournament to close out February, the Tigers played Dunbar in a DCIAA rematch, and won 61-13. In the semifinal against St. John’s, the Tigers, despite being down early, mounted a 15-point comeback but came up just short, losing 52-55. 

“Great year for us, one bad quarter put a cap on a good year that we had,” said Head Coach David “Tee” Johnson, who won his second DCIAA championship as head coach of the Tigers. “I think the second quarter versus St. John’s was awful for us, that’s what separated us and dug us that hole. But other than that, we’ve done a lot of great things over the course of the year. You can’t dim the light that we’ve had shining all year.” 

FINAL STOP: The Tigers began their final stop of the 2023-24 season in New Jersey, competing in a national tournament. Pictured: Junior forward Jayden Fort.

The Tigers have become the face of public school basketball in the District, cementing themselves as a model and powerhouse program, branching out all across the region and country. “The guys work so hard, and put so much work into those 33 wins,” said Coach Tee. “33-3, that’s tough to do, it looks a lot easier when people show up to the games, and see us winning, it’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes.” 

“We made sure we were a very well conditioned team and we knew we had to keep playing with a chip on our shoulder despite the rankings and all of our wins,” added junior forward JJ Massaquoi. “The journey was great, all the guys wanted to buy into us winning a championship and we did.” 

Although they’ve played 36 games, the season isn’t over just yet. The Tigers will compete in a four-day national tournament called the The Throne National Championship (Mar. 27-30), at American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A four-round bracket, the tournament powered by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) and Gold Level Sports & Entertainment, features some of the country’s best programs, and best talents across 11 different states. 

The 16-team bracket includes four teams from ESPN’s national rankings, including Columbus (Fl.) ranked fourth best in the country. 13 teams from Max Preps’ Top-25, 12 state championship winning teams, more than 30 players ranked top-100 in the nation, will all compete under the eyes of college recruiters and 35 NBA teams’ personnel members according to the organization’s website. 

The Tigers first matchup is set for #19 ESPN ranked Grayson High School (GA), (30-2) on Wednesday,  televised on NBA TV at 1:20 pm. 

TIGER HOOPS: Senior guard Justin Gilmore attempting a layup in the DCSAA AA Semi Final against St. John’s at Georgetown University.

“This tournament is big, playing against a high number of major guys and some potential NBA prospects,” said Massaquoi. “[It’s] a chance for everyone on the team to show what they’re capable of and attract the attention of college coaches and be able to end the season on a good note,” Gilmore added. 

“[It’s] another opportunity to show the world who we are, another chance for us to redeem ourselves,” added junior forward Jayden Fort. “I’m glad we got the opportunity, we’re going to make the best of it.”

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About the Contributors
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
Eli Schwartz, Assistant Director of Art and Design
  • 2022-23: Senior Photo Editor
  • 2023-24: Assistant Director of Art and Design
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