Washington D.C. ~ Day 2 of the WCAC basketball tournament began with #4 seed Gonzaga and #1 seed Paul VI while #2 seed DeMatha and #3 seed Bishop O'Connell were the nightcap in Bender Arena.
Gonzaga 68 PVI 58
In the closing seconds of an incredible upset of the PVI Panthers, the Gonzaga student section could be heard chanting "Just like last year" as Penn State signee Myles Dread was leading his troops to the free throw line. For Dread, it was an unforgettable moment for him and his teammates as everyone was counting them out after fellow senior Prentiss Hubb was lost to a torn ACL before the season even started.
"I'm just proud of our guys for taking care of business tonight," Coach Steve Turner said. "They're playing together, and doing it the right way, giving themselves a chance to get back to the game they played in last year."
Gonzaga was able to build up leads as large as 14 points, but the Panthers always had an answer. A Roach 3-pointer cut it to as close as four points at 39-35 before Gonzaga was able to pull out a 9-2 run that gave them another double-digit lead at 48-37. The battle of toughness and grit the Eagles proved to be the ones who wanted this contest more and we're willing to fight harder as they weathered every counter that the Panthers had. Trash talk was a plenty as Anthony Harris and Myles Dread exchanged words after every bucket. Heralded sophomore Jeremy Roach(13 points) seemed to still be ailing from an ankle injury suffered last week but was getting to the rim at will and converting on his free throws. Anthony Harris was able to keep the Panthers close with his game-high 20 points but didn't get much help from anyone else. Myles Dread lead Gonzaga with 19 points including a trio of triples. Terrance Williams and Anwar Gill also contributed 13 points apiece.
"Beating a team three times in a row is really hard, " Dread said. "Guys like us have a chip on our shoulder, we're not going to let someone beat us three times in a row."
DeMatha 74 O'Connell 63
The Stags are one step closer to their first WCAC title since winning it all in 2011 along with winning their 40th title in total thanks to a monstrous 34-point performance from Justin Moore. One year after being forced to watch from the sidelines as his Stags lost to PVI in last years Final Four, Moore is one step closer o to ending his comeback year on an even brighter note with his first WCAC title in his high school career.
"It was big for me but most importantly big for my team," Moore said. "The validation will be getting this ship tomorrow."
After coming out hot and hitting twine on four triples, the Knights were unable to convert on their looks as the Stags were able to match the offensive punch that O'Connell had at every turn. Their last lead of the night came when Xavier Johson hit, giving his squad a 42-41 early in the third quarter. He would finish with 11 points in the frame but was outdone by his rival and former Team Takeover teammate Justin Moore. Moore was able to take over in the third frame exploding for 15 points, including draining a trio of triples off the dribble. Moore was even more emotional and demonstrative than usual, talking trash to Johnson to get only himself amped up but his teammates as well:
"Playing against him makes you better each and every day," Moore said. " It's great, we're both very competitive, we want to win so we go at it."