While the Redskins often dominate the local sports discussion, Washington remains a basketball city at its core. The city’s relationship with Captain Blatche and the Wizards may be a bit tepid these days, but you can always count on local high school basketball games to fill up the gym.
The Washington area boasts three high schools in the USA Today Super 25, led by the undefeated Gonzaga Eagles. The traditional power out of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference are on the rise in local and national rankings after a week that featured two huge wins. Last Monday they outlasted Baltimore power Patterson High in front of a packed gym at DC’s Coolidge High School, despite playing without future North Carolina Tar Heel Nate Britt. They doubled the feat over the weekend with an even bigger win, this time over DeMatha Catholic. More than 3,000 fans filled American University’s Bender Arena to witness the city’s best rivalry in person.
These games offer the kind of atmosphere that is sometimes lacking at Verizon Center. Fortunately there are still plenty of notable games left in the season. Here’s a look at some of the match-ups you may want to check out in the coming weeks.
Coolidge vs. Montrose Christian, January 26
Second-ranked Montrose Christian program will likely be leapfrogged by Gonzaga when the new Washington Post rankings are released. Stu Vetter’s team, led by senior forward and future Virginia Cavalier Justin Anderson, will have to get past a tough Coolidge team in order to stay in the race for the top ranking. Senior Khalen Cumberlander has scored at least 19 points in five straight games to lead Coolidge, while Montrose leans heavily on Anderson, a senior. The Virginia recruit is ranked 61st in the class of 2012 by ESPN.
Paul VI vs. DeMatha, January 27
DeMatha vs. Paul VI, February 19
Nationally ranked Paul VI of Fairfax is probably the third best team in their conference, a testament to the power of the WCAC. They are led by a standout backcourt of senior Patrick Holloway and junior Stanford Robinson. Holloway will play locally at George Mason next season, while Robinson is weighing offers from schools in the Big East and ACC.
Episcopal vs. Bullis, January 31
The top two teams in the IAC face off for the third and final time to close January. Bullis will be looking to avenge their only two losses of the year in this battle of top-ten area teams. Episocpal is led by future GW Colonial Kethan Savage and Arnaud Adala Moto, who turned down Maryland to play at Wake Forest next season.
Paul VI vs. Gonzaga, January 31
Gonzaga vs. Paul VI, February 12
Paul VI is off to an 8–0 start in conference play, but they have yet to play either of the WCAC’s two other powerhouses. It’s going to be a busy few weeks for the Panthers, including these two match-ups against Britt and breakout star Kris Jenkins.
DeMatha vs. Gonzaga, February 10
The Stags will be out for revenge against their rivals from DC. They’ll be led by future Pitt point guard James Robinson and class of 2013 super-recruit BeeJay Anya, perhaps best known for his unheard-of seven-foot-nine wingspan).
From there it’s on to the playoffs, where another meeting between these top teams could await. These games are a treat for anyone who loves basketball, or for those who appreciate a raucous student section.