St. John’s takes down Paul VI, 54-49, to repeat as WCAC champs
In a packed house at Bender Arena on the campus of American University, the 2018 WCAC Championship games did not disappoint.
The first matchup was the girls’ championship game between Paul VI and St. John’s College. St.John’s are the reigning champs in the WCAC on the girls’ side and were looking to continue its dominance by winning a second straight title.
This is the third consecutive year St. John’s and Paul VI have met in the WCAC championship game.
Last season, St. John’s won 58-52, and Paul VI won 70-61 in 2016. Therefore both teams were very familiar with each other and knew a win was not going to come easy.
The game started off very fast as both teams came out with a lot of energy. Paul VI had the lead early behind strong play from Tennessee commit Amira Collins and Maryland commit Ashley Owusu. This strong two-headed monster set the tone for the Panthers and the Cadets knew they would have to get strong defense to stop them.
Throughout the regular season, SJC was led by freshman phenom Azi Fudd.
Fudd comes from a great basketball family. Her mom, Katie Smrcka-Duffy played at Georgetown and was one of the first players to be drafted into the WNBA by the Sacramento Monarchs. Her dad, Tim played basketball at American University.
With all of this rich history around Fudd, playing in big games like this was nothing new to her.
Fudd played well, finishing with 11 points and had the tough matchup of guarding Panther guard Owusu, who finished with 25 points.
Instead of relying on Fudd, St. John’s received great help from point guard Carly Rivera. Rivera was on fire in the first half dropping 11 points and hitting all of her shots.
In the second half, Rivera hit two big shots that helped hold PVI off to give SJC a win.
Rivera finished with 16 points and was a key reason why the Cadets repeated as WCAC champs.
DeMatha takes Gonzaga down to the wire, 54-53, to win first title since 2011
In the following championship game for the boys, DeMatha and Gonzaga headlined this matchup.
There was a lot at stake in this championship game, as DeMatha had not won a basketball championship since 2011, and Gonzaga was trying to win its third championship in four years.
This game started off slow as DeMatha was settling for jump shots. Gonzaga decided to key in on DeMatha guard Justin Moore, who had previously dropped 34 in the semifinals against Bishop O’Connell.
This worked as Moore decided to facilitate more to set his other teammates up for easy baskets. Gonzaga also decided to play very aggressively towards dominant DeMatha star center and seven-footer Hunter Dickinson.
With the Eagles keying in on these two stars, the Stags knew someone else was going to have to step up.
In the first half, due to Gonzaga keying in one DeMatha’s two stars, Carsten Kogelnik led the Stags with eight points and Jahmir Young also added seven points.
DeMatha was able to get good production from two important role players. Because of this, they went into halftime with a six-point lead.
However, they knew Gonzaga was going to make a comeback and they did just that.
Coming out of halftime, Gonzaga amped up the pressure and took the lead as the Eagles got strong production from another role player, Allin Blunt.
Blunt played a big role for the Eagles down the final stretch, hitting consistent three’s and spacing the floor. In the fourth quarter, Gonzaga had built its lead up to five with less than five minutes remaining and looked like it was closing in on another WCAC championship.
However, DeMatha guard Earl Timberlake had a different idea.
Timberlake led a big run for DeMatha scoring six points in a 7-0 run for the Stags that gave them a 53-51 lead with two minutes left to play.
Gonzaga tied the game up with just under one minute before Timberlake responded hitting a game-winning free throw to give the Stags a one-point win.
— Isaiah (@RealDealZay) February 27, 2018
“I’m just very happy we were able to get this, its been too long.” DeMatha head coach Mike Jones said.
This is the DeMatha’s 40th basketball championship and first since 2011.
“This feels great. It’s unbelievable, I’ll never forget this or these kids,” Jones said.
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