Coming into the D.C. City Title Game between Theodoore Roosevelt and DeMatha at the Verizon Center last night, everyone thought DeMatha would have a decided advantage. The WCAC has proven over the last few City Title games to be superior to the DCIAA, and DeMatha is the posterboy for the conference's excellence.
On paper, DeMatha is a vastly superior team. As I wrote yesterday, they had a significant size advantage at every single position, and most of their players will play basketball at the next level. This might not be one of the best DeMatha teams in recent memory, but it is still a team that would have dominated the DCIAA.
But once the game started, all of that was thrown out the window. What Roosevelt lacked in size, they made up for in physicality and perseverance. They picked up DeMatha full court on every possession, making things difficult for point guard James Robinson as soon as he got the ball.They fouled Mikael Hopkins and Beejay Anya instead of letting them use their size to bully them in the post. And when a DeMatha player dove on the ball for a loose ball, it seemed like he was always fighting three or four Roosevelt players for posession. It was the exact type of scrappy performance that they needed to stay competitive in this game.
In the final few minutes, the game was a lot closer than anyone would have guessed. The two teams traded buckets for a couple minutes, and after Roosevelt scored with 1:05, the game was tied at 50. Then, the greatest disrepancy between the two conferences came into play. The WCAC plays with a shot clock, but the DCIAA does not. So these title games are played without one. DeMatha coach Mike Jones instructed Robinson to run the least exciting play in basketball, the 65 second hold for one.
Robinson dribbled the ball at half court for a little while, passed a few times, took the ball to the hoop and got fouled with four seconds left, and made both free throws. Roosevelt's inbound pass on a potential game-tying possession went array, and DeMatha escaped with a 52-50 win.
I thought this game would be a showcase for DeMatha, an opportunity to show just how far apart the have's were from the have not's. But that didn't turn out to be the case. Roosevelt played with a lot of pride, and most importantly, they played like they deserved to be on the same court as the mighty DeMatha Stags. When somebody plays like that, it doesn't matter what their resume says. And maybe that is the kind of basketball game we can expect from the City Title game in the future.