"It's All About The Game"
Stags Take St. John’s Showdown, 66-60
Ron Bailey, Publisher
January 5, 2007 – Last night, Trinity University’s modern gymnasium was packed to the gills with D.C. high school hoops fans, as DeMatha and St. John’s matched up for their first of two regular season games. After falling to a 23-5 first quarter deficit, St. John’s battled back to within five at halftime, and closed the score further during the third quarter. When the final buzzer rang, the Stags of DeMatha (9-1)bested their arch Washington Catholic Athletic Association rival St. John’s (11-3), 66-60.
In racing to that 18 point first period advantage, senior, Georgetown-bound guard Austin Freeman (27 points) started off scoring with a nice alley-oop dunk, and didn’t look back. Directing the Stag’s attack was future Princeton Tiger, senior point guard Jeff Peterson (17 points). In fact, it was Peterson who set Freeman up for that slam, as well as found him for a layup shortly later, on a nice curl.
DeMatha assistant coach, Dave Adkins, lauded the play of both. “Austin is Austin”, he said, meaning Freeman does what he has done for almost four years now – do whatever it takes to win, and standout in the process. In terms of Peterson, Adkins remarked upon his ability to not only set up the offense, but provide scoring and leadership as well.
In the first stanza, senior guard and Hoya-to-be Chris Wright (31 points) scored all five of St. John’s points, but shunned his typical role of offensive catalyst for more playmaking responsibilities. According to him, this was done with an eye to history. “If you look at the past games against Dematha, if I took all the shots, we got in a hole” he shared.
Unfortunately, this time around, they were still in a hole, a fact Wright attributed to starting out “a little sluggish”, possibly generated by playing “six games in ten days”. In the second quarter, both he and future George Mason Patriot, senior forward Vlad Moldoveanu (20 points) jump started the Cadets.
Vlad Moldoveanu is at the line, after attacking the basket. DeMatha's Jeff Peterson (30) looks on.
Wright’s put back and Vlad’s drive to the cup started their team’s 15-2 run over almost a six minute stretch; an offensive barrage fueled not only by their offensive aggression, but the Cadets creating turnovers. The duo would end up scoring 25 of their teams 27 first half points.
“We kind of came alive in the second quarter. We hung in there” said Ron Winbush, a St. John’s assistant coach, of the team’s comeback.
Moldoveanu, normally a player who favors the perimeter, was seen frequently battling inside, or attacking the rim. His play did not go unnoticed. “Vlad is having a heck of a year. He’s taking pressure off of me” said Wright. “People don’t realize he’s as big as he is” continued Chris, commenting on Moldoveanu’s inside play. “I see it every day in practice”.
Chris Wright (center), is seen here inbounding the ball, while being guarded by DeMatha's Isaiah Tate (21). Tate will be at George Mason University next year.
Despite another Peterson to Freeman alley-oop, St. John’s came within three with 1:50 left in the third quarter, before one series that seemed to portend the game’s outcome: The Stags got six consecutive point blank attempts, with Georgetown committed junior Chris Braswell (6 points), Freeman and others controlling the glass, despite the spirited play of junior Korey Neal and Moldoveanu.
That sequence seemed to propel the Stags to a 6-2 run to close the period. The Cadet’s would once again whittle their deficit to three after a three-pointer from Wright, but would not get closer.
Winbush, though disappointed with the outcome, stated “We fought to the end. One thing we are going to do is fight”. Wright echoed those sentiments, and felt on a personal level he “played well, but didn’t hit enough shots”, ultimately lamenting the fact his team “lost”, as “I don’t like losing”.
The gym at N.W. D.C.'s Trinity University was packed throughout last night.
DeMatha’s Braswell opined the contest “was a good game”, and that it was “good competition”. His present and future teammate agreed, and was also impressed with the fan turnout. “It’s an honor that they came out here and supported us like that” said Freeman.
Round two is slated for February 2nd. Be there. Early.
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