When Bard High School Early College DC opened in 2019, few people outside of the Congress Heights area knew about the four-year public school that offers students the opportunity to take two years of tuition-free college courses in liberal arts and sciences following their freshman and sophomore years. Even fewer people knew that they had a basketball program. Well, they know now.

Under the construction of highly respected Head boys basketball coach and Athletic Director Malcolm Battle, the school has served notice that it is a power to be reckoned with in the DC Intercollegiate Athletic Association (DCIAA) basketball landscape after winning the league’s boys basketball championship.

The program made quick strides, last year, capturing the AA level of the DC State Athletic Association (DCSAA) state championship – doing it with a team of underclassmen.

Remarkably, the team’s success occurred with the prospect of not having a gym and playing all their games on the road.

But Battle, who experienced measured success at Caesar Chavez before coming to Bard, had a plan.

Then this year, it all came together for the Falcons, who played against schools such as Theodore Roosevelt, Jackson Reed, Dunbar and Coolidge. The upstart Falcons served notice they came to dominate throughout the season schedule. Then, Bard knocked off heavily favored and defending DCIAA champions Jackson Reed in the semifinals, 71-65, setting the stage for its first venture into uncharted waters.

The DCIAA championship at Coolidge had all the ambiance of D.C. High School basketball, as a standing-room-only crowd gathered to see if this Bard program was for real in a game against McKinley Tech. The Falcons took an early lead and then threatened to put it away early when it opened a 28-18 halftime advantage.

But the Trainers (24-6), which had its best season in recent years and had advanced to the finals by virtue of an upset win over highly ranked and favorite Theodore Roosevelt, rallied and managed a workable 38-30 deficit heading into the final stanza.

The Trainers’ charge was led by their senior do-everything guard, Terrell Webster who willed his team all year. Scoring on a variety of three-pint bombs and slick Euro steps to the basket, Webster did all he could to help his team stay close. He finished with a game-high 22 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

But with game MVP, senior guard DeAngelo Fogle hitting all the big shots to stem any McKinley Tech runs, and a team balance

that featured four players with between seven and 10 points, the Falcons were not to be denied and were able to secure their place in DC basketball history with the title.

“It is very gratifying when you can achieve this championship after our journey,” said Battle. “There have been a lot of challenges that we have been through to get here. With having no gym, playing all our games on the road and trying to get these young men to buy in, is something people don’t see. But at the end of the day, this is the result. I am so happy for them and for our community.”

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D) was in attendance along with at-Large Councilman Kenyan McDuffie.

“Bard showed what can happen when a team can sacrifice and buy into one goal,” said White. “Bard makes Ward 8 proud.”

Dunbar Maintains Their Reign

In the girls’ championship, Dunbar (17-4) kept it close early and trailed 22-21 at the half.

The young Coolidge (17-8) team appeared in position to take control when it opened its biggest lead at 38-33 at the end of three quarters. Then the defending champ, Crimson Tide began to assert themselves on the scoring of sophomore guard Emorean Thomas and the inside presence of junior forward London Grey. The duo combined to score 18 of their team’s 22 fourth-quarter points.

“We just stayed the course all season,” said Dunbar Head Coach Jermaine Clark. “We have been here before so they never panicked.”

Grey led with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Thomas contributed 16 points, four assists and four steals while converting on eight of nine from the free throw line, five of five in the final stanza.

The young Colts, who start two freshmen and a sophomore, were led by senior Daniya McClure-Warren, who led all scorers with 23 points, and freshman Josslyn Derricott with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a game-high six blocked shots.

All four teams await the selections for the upcoming DCSAA championships, which gets underway March 3-5.

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