The top-ranked DeMatha Stags may have the most skilled roster in Washington, D.C. high school hoops, but even they had to take a back seat to the generations of talent assembled for their last home game. Nearly 60 years worth of legendary DeMatha players gathered for the school’s last game at Morgan Wootten Gymnasium, a 79-65 win over the Good Counsel Falcons.

The game also marked DeMatha’s Senior Night, where graduating players are recognized. After DeMatha seniors Jerian Grant and Victor Oladipo were honored prior to the game, they helped get their team rolling in the first quarter. Grant’s dunk and free throw brought the crowd to their feet before Oladipo’s three-point attempt at the buzzer banked off the glass and dropped into the net to close the quarter with a DeMatha lead 20-9.

DeMatha junior point guard Quinn Cook gave his regular starting job to senior Derrick Banks on the special night. But once he entered the game at the start of the second quarter, it was all smiles and all scores for Cook, one of the area’s top players.

“It was just a great night to be a part of DeMatha,” Cook said. “It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, just to be a part of what happened tonight can go with you for the rest of your life. This is probably one of the most, if not the most, legendary gym of all-time. To be a part of the closing and being on the team that closed it out is an honor.”

Cook and Oladipo led the Stags with 15 points each while Grant added 13 points. DeMatha took a 39-24 lead into halftime, where fans cheered for players of every decade between 1950 and 2010. Thirty-eight former players were on hand to witness legendary coach Morgan Wootten’s personal thank you and farewell speech to the venue at which he built his legacy.

“Tradition never ends, it just continues,” Wootten said as he addressed the crowd before the second half tip-off.

DeMatha maintained their dominance in the second half, surviving a brief scare when Good Counsel (17-9, 10-6) cut their lead to 48-41 at the end of the third quarter. DeMatha (26-3, 17-1) responded with a 9-2 run to close the quarter before putting Good Counsel away for good in the final period. Good Counsel guard Ben Hazel led all scorers with 18 points, connecting on a game-high six three-pointers.

DeMatha will move across the street to its new home, the $15 million Convocation Center, next season.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO