Roosevelt Roughriders junior forward Deion Haynes scored 21 points with 13 rebounds off the bench to lead his team to a 96-84 victory over the Coolidge Colts in a District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association(DCIAA) semifinal playoff game on Feb. 22 in Washington, D.C.
The top-seeded Roosevelt established itself as the team to beat in the DCIAA, but they also have a long history with rival Coolidge. Last year, a late free throw gave Coolidge a 62-61 victory in its second straight DCIAA title game against Roosevelt.
There was no way Roosevelt was going to lose to Coolidge again. Senior forward Jibreel Faulkner set the tone early, putting the first points on the board with a slam dunk.
“For the returning players, we had a momentum to come back to beat them, because we lost by one,” said Faulkner. “To have the other guys come in and be as focused as we were…it was amazing to bring it all together.”
“They have a tremendous program over there at Coolidge. Vaughn Jones does a great job. We knew it would be a challenge trying to beat them on their floor, but our kids believed,” said Roosevelt head coach Rob Nickens.
Without their star player, high-flying senior forward Jamall Gregory, Coolidge failed to create shots on offense. Led by senior guard and La Salle commit Johnnie Shuler, Roosevelt came out strong on both ends of the court, and had a 15-point lead by halftime.
In the second half, Coolidge finally found their rhythm, but Roosevelt had an answer for every point. Coolidge senior forward Doug Farley scored a game-high 33 points, but it wasn’t enough to upset Roosevelt.
Senior guard Jarrell Allen added 15 points, while junior forward Anthony Whitney contributed 16 points for Roosevelt.
“Earlier in the season, we were playing a lot of slow basketball. We just conditioned the second half of the season, we picked the pace up. As you can see, now it’s pedal to the medal. We’re pressing all out,” said Coach Nickens.
Roosevelt will face the H.D. Woodson Warriors in the DCIAA Championship Game on Feb. 25 at Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. The last time these teams met, senior guard and Roosevelt transfer Devin Smith scored the game-winning shot to give Woodson a 54-53 victory.