As the District’s high school basketball season (boys) winds down, a huge game looms on the horizon that could dramatically affect the playoffs.
On Monday, perennial powerhouse Woodrow Wilson takes on upstart McKinley Tech in a DCIAA showdown in Northwest on McKinley’s home court. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers (19-4, 12-1 in the DCIAA) enter the game having won nine of their last 11, including an easy 76-36 victory over H.D. Woodson on Jan. 28. Wilson boasts one of the top players in the DMV in forward Darren Buchanan, a 6-6 senior, who has received numerous offers from some of the top basketball programs in the country.
“Darren has been solid in this season,” said David Johnson, now in his first year as head coach after serving as an assistant for the past few seasons.
“The key for us has been the young players have come along and helped contribute to our success,” Johnson said. “I could not ask for more. They play hard for me; they have chemistry and they like each other.”
The Trainers (17-5, 10-2 in the DCIAA), a dominant force during the ’70s, continue to have their best season in years. They’re currently riding a nine-game winning streak. This season, the Trainers have been led by Terrell Webster, a St. John’s transfer who has become one of the most talked about young players in the region. Webster’s regarded as an impact player with excellent passing skills and the ability to dictate the game.
“This has been a 12-year process,” said Trainers assistant coach William “Fuzz” Hall. “It has taken us a while but we feel that we finally have the right pieces. We believe we can play with anyone.”
Gray points to Webster as being the difference-maker. Webster, a 6-4 junior who comes from a strong pedigree of former standouts in the sport, played at the middle school at McKinley that won the championship in the seventh grade. After things did not work out at St. John’s, he returned to McKinley to open arms and reunited with some of his former teammates.
“He brings a boatload of confidence to the team. There’s no question that he makes the difference for us,” Gray said.
As for their concern for Buchanan, Gray said of his all-around skills, “he’s like a Swiss army knife.”
The teams continue to jockey for position and could be the top two seeds heading into the tournament, Feb. 14-16. The two highest seeds will host the semis in a new format with the championship taking place on Feb. 16 at a site to be determined. Both teams have played highly-competitive schedules against some of the area’s top-ranked teams and have only three losses for the two teams combined, all coming on forfeits as a result of COVID-19.
“It is going to be a good DCIAA matchup,” Johnson predicted. “They defeated Coolidge and I’m sure that they will have something to prove. It is definitely good for the league.”
Gray agreed, with a caveat.
“This has actually grown into a big rivalry in the DCIAA,” Gray said. “We expect there to be standing room only on Monday night.”