West Potomac set the tone early against T.C. Williams in Friday night’s Gunston District championship.
Senior center Jonas Munson, a 7-footer who earned Gunston District Defensive Player of the Year, emphatically blocked one of the Titans’ first shots in the paint. Senior forward Shannon Harrigan, along with Munson, pulled down rebounds again and again. Senior guard Daryl Mackey Jr. got the first of his game-high five steals and completed a three-point play.
By the end of the first frame five different Wolverines had scored, building a 14-5 lead. T.C. Williams never quite recovered, and West Potomac’s relentless defense never allowed the Titans to truly threaten again en route to a 64-53 home victory.
“Early on [we wanted] to go as hard as we possibly could on defense and try to limit them to single digits,” said West Potomac coach David Houston III. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year … we feel like even when we’re not shooting the ball well we can do that.”
The win is West Potomac’s 14th in a row, and marked the Wolverines’ third district title in four years. The Wolverines remained perfect in Gunston District play, and now have home-court advantage in next week’s regional tournament.
Mackey led West Potomac with 19 points. He was a force on both sides of the floor, finishing with five steals and 10 rebounds, as well as five assists. He saved his best for the fourth quarter, scoring nine points, including a steal and reverse dunk that electrified the home crowd with just over two minutes remaining.
Following the game Mackey was named the tournament’s MVP, the latest honor in a highly decorated career at West Potomac.
“It’s really nice that we’ve had him for four years,” said Houston, who said he’s followed Mackey’s progress on the court since he was 6 years old. “He’s knows what we’re doing … it’s definitely a luxury to have to have some that’s that much of a veteran.”
Munson had a game-high six blocked shots in addition to eight points and 10 rebounds, while Harrigan had a team-high 13 rebounds to go along with 12 points. Both players were named to the all-tournament team.
West Potomac now stands at 20-3, and has not lost a game yet in 2019. Mackey said the Wolverines’ winning streak is a testament to the team’s focus.
“Just being consistent,” Mackey said. “Everything we do every day, just being consistent. That’s basically what it is.”
After giving up a T.C. Williams 3-pointer to start the game, West Potomac went on a 12-0 run that saw five different Wolverines — Munson, Mackey, Harrigan, junior guard Deandre Doherty, junior guard Bradley Harden — score.
Mackey would hit another bucket shortly before the buzzer to give the Wolverines a 14-5 lead. From there West Potomac was in control, and would lead by double figures the majority of the second half until a late Titans rally in the game’s final two minutes.
T.C. Williams was led by senior guard Jaquan Johnson-Terry, who led all scores with 26 points. Sophomore guard Tekao Carpenter added 17.
The Titans managed to cut the lead to single digits in the game’s final few minutes thanks to their own ability to force turnovers, but West Potomac went 5-6 from the free throw line in the game’s final minute to ice the win.
Houston credited his team’s winning streak on the players ability to play within a system, and said having to play games earlier in the year without Mackey helped the team not to become overly dependent on its star guard.
“We’ve had to play some games without a couple players,” Houston said. “The kids have really bought into the system and realized the system gives them an opportunity to win.”
The win was West Potomac’s third district championship in four years, a run the school hasn’t had since the mid-1990s. The victory was also a statement after the Wolverines fell just short in last year’s championship game.
“It shows our growth as a team, and as players … bouncing back from what happened last year,” Mackey said. “It’s just really big.”
Note: The West Potomac girls basketball team fell to T.C. Williams in the Gunston District championship earlier on Friday at T.C. Williams. Read more on NovaHoops.com.