"It's All About The Game"
Gonzaga Takes Title of Its Tourney
Ron Bailey, Publisher
Gonzaga's squad is seen here, with the championship trophy.
December 18, 2006 – Going into this season, Steve Turner, Gonzaga College High School’s (Washington, DC) third year head coach, had enjoyed winning his school’s Gonzaga DC Classic Tournament as an assistant coach there, but never as a head man. Yesterday evening that changed, given his Eagles defeated St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD) 82-56 in the tourney’s championship game, played at American University’s Bender Arena.
From the outset, Gonzaga looked as if they were intent on establishing themselves on both sides of the floor, as after tying the ball game at 14, the Eagles finished the first half on a 36-13 run, sparked by junior Cameron Johnson’s 21 point opening stanza (24 for the game) outburst.
“We talked at length before the game about starting out strong” said Turner, who later responded “We wanted to get him (Johnson) more touches” when asked specifically about Cameron’s offensensive play.
And that he did, as Johnson sealed his eventual MVP award designation by scoring repeatedly from the mid-range, as well as finishing fat break opportunities, created by Gonzaga’s 2-2-1 press, and overall defensive intensity. Individually, Johnson displayed that ethos when creating several steals.
Typical of his low key nature, Cameron Johnson, at the charity stripe above, responded "I'm proud of myself, I guess" when asked about receiving the award.
“I guess I didn’t want to come out flat like we did in the other games” said Johnson afterward. “I wanted to pick up the intensity”.
As did sophomore Ian Hummer (15 points) and freshman Tyler Thornton (14 points). Both of these talented high school neophytes played with energy and poise, producing buckets in fast break and half court scenarios.
Turner appreciates that duos contributions. “Ian excelled for us the last two nights. He’s a big kid, who is more athletic then you may think” he said. “Tyler gets better and better each day. He really understands how to play”.
Leading 50-27 at intermission, Gonzaga’s onslaught continued during the second half. Compounding the problem was the foul trouble two of St. Frances’ players, senior Aric Brooks (9 points) and junior Sean Mosely (10 points) experienced – both were assessed their fourth early in the third period.
Though it was one of those proverbial days for St. Frances, the Panthers, led by long time coach William Wells, didn’t throw in the towel, despite the lopsided score and numerous reserves playing major minutes in the second stanza. Senior Desmond Thomas (13 points) led his team in scoring, and played hard throughout.
Afterward, Turner commented the win “feels great”. Multiplying his pride was the fact his “kids taking final exams and many of them being sick”.
Greater than Gonzaga’s on court success are the benefits provided by the tournament to those less fortunate. According to 14-year Tournament Chair John McLaughlin, “The money (generated) goes to several projects for Gonzaga students, internationally and domestically”, including programs “in the Dominican Republic providing housing” and in South Dakota “assisting the Lakota Indians”.
McLaughlin went on to identify the obvious benefits to the project’s recipients, but also indicated Gonzaga’s students who engage in them derive a benefit. “They get to live with people less fortunate” then they, he said. “In that way, they learn about spirituality” and live Gonzaga’s motto ‘Men for others’.
So concludes this year’s Gonzaga DC Classic. Congratulations are in order for all its participants, organizers, and patrons. Not only was great basketball played, but in a small way the world benefited as well.
2006 Gonzaga DC Classic All-Tournament Team:
(l. to rt.) Cameron Johnson - MVP, Seam Mosley, Marquise Carter (Horizon), Jeff Whithey (Horizon, in back), Rodney Gould (Gonzaga), Max Kenyi (Gonzaga). Adrian Mills (Paul VI) and Nikita Mescharakou (St. John's John's Catholic Prep) are absent.
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