H.D. Woodson senior guard Devin Smith waited two years for the moment. The transfer student from Roosevelt High School was more than eager to face his old team, and it was his buzzer-beating shot that allowed the Woodson Warriors to defeat the Roosevelt Roughriders, 54-53, in a thrilling match in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 4.
Roosevelt took advantage of a slow start by Woodson, and came out strong in the first half. Led by head coach Robert Nickens, the Roughriders took control of both ends of the court. Roosevelt junior guard Anthony Whitney shined in the first half, wowing the crowd with a steal followed by a two-handed slam dunk in the first quarter. Junior forward Joseph Adedayo made his own mark with a huge block in the second quarter.
By halftime, the Roughriders were sitting on a comfortable 17-point lead. However, Woodson head coach Trey Mines said he knew the game wasn’t over yet, and believed there was still plenty of time for a comeback.
“My message to them was, ‘We have a chance to do something special. We gotta show up to the party, man,’” Mines said. “Everybody’s watching you. People are starting to see that we’re for real. We showed up in the second half.”
Woodson started the third quarter on an 8-2 run, and it was clear the Warriors had a different attitude than in the first half. Tensions rose between the two teams, with Roosevelt senior guard Johnnie Shuler and Woodson sophomore guard Clenteous McCoy engaging in a war of words. The Warriors capitalized on their opponent’s turnovers and hustled for second chance points to cut the Roughriders’ lead to five heading into the fourth quarter.
With just under two minutes to go, McCoy forced a Roosevelt turnover that led to an easy layup. Roosevelt was up by one point with 15 seconds to go, but Shuler missed a free throw, and it was clear that Woodson would have the last possession.
“When we got down to the last point, there was no question in my mind of who that bucket was going to go to,” Mines said. “I said, ‘You’ve been waiting on this, Devin. You’re our leader, you’re our senior. This is you.’”
On the ensuing play, Smith got the ball in his hands, drove to the hoop and executed a perfect floater to win the game.
Asked what the win means to him, Smith said, “If we can beat Roosevelt, we can beat anybody now. Straight like that.”
Sophomore forward Antwon Walker led Woodson with 14 points, while Smith scored 11 points. Shuler led Roosevelt with 17 points.