With McNamara, Carroll and O’Connell all prevailing in Thursday’s play-in games, the stage is now set for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament. Here’s a glimpse at the four quarterfinal contests taking place on Saturday at Gallaudet:
#4 St. John’s vs #5 Good Counsel (1 p.m.)
Good Counsel has been a perpetual WCAC bottom-feeder for quite some time. In fact, it’s been two decades since the Roger Mason/Chris Monroe era when the Falcons were perceived as upper-echelon material. GJ Kissal has since turned things around at Good Counsel, having clinched the 5-seed. The Falcons lack size so their small-ball lineup will have to pay dividends as they look to reach the semi’s for the first time since 2004 when former Terrapin James Gyst graced the floor for them. After Casey Morsell moved on to Virginia and Darius Maddox transferred to Oak Hill, a return to the WCAC championship seemed improbable for St. John’s . Rhode Island commit Ishmael Leggett, however, has answered the call all season for the Cadets, elevating his game in every facet. A strong second half showing was the difference for St. John’s in their most recent win over Good Counsel, but they’ll need freshman Amani Hansberry and senior Manzi Wilson to elevate their game if they hope to make a trip back to the WCAC championship.
#1 DeMatha vs #9 O’Connell (2:45 p.m.)
After winning 22 straight games, the Stags picked up their first conference game loss against Paul VI on the road Sunday. Though no team basks in defeat, the loss may serve as a good-wake up call for DeMatha as it enters tournament play. DeMatha will look to lean on their dynamic duo in Miami commit Earl Timberlake and 7-foot-2 Michigan commit Hunter Dickinson as they look to make a run at their 41st overall WCAC crown. To get there, they must slow down an upstart O’Connell backcourt in Paul Lewis and Wes Peterson, who helped the Knights take down national powerhouse Mater Dei back in January.
#2 Paul VI #7 Carroll (4:30 p.m.)
The Panthers enter the tournament having picked up a huge win over top-seed DeMatha in their regular-season finale Sunday. Paul VI is led by Duke commit and McDonald’s All-American Jeremy Roach, who will have one final chance to get that elusive WCAC conference title. Last year’s WCAC co-player of the year Trevor Keels has also played well for the Panthers, having added sound passing and rebounding ability to his already strong scoring prowess. Panthers sophomore Knasir ‘Dug’ McDaniel has also been a great boost, as he was the catalyst of an 11-0 personal run that helped hand DeMatha its lone conference loss. Carroll has its hand full in Saturday’s quarterfinal, but led by Towson commit Cory Barnes and 6-foot-10 Tegra Izay, the Lions have allowed the third-fewest points in conference play. The Lions will be able to keep themselves in the tournament if they can limit other teams from scoring.
#3 Gonzaga vs #6 McNamara (6:15 p.m.)
Steve Turner’s Gonzaga Eagles have a knack for showing up in big time moments. They are winners of three of the last five WCAC tournaments, and will lean on Michigan commit Terrance Williams, Butler commit Chuck Harris, and Vanderbilt commit Myles Stute as they look to repeat as back-to-back WCAC champions. Gonzaga has had five days to rest after enduring one of the the area’s toughest schedules and will need every bit of it against upstart McNamara. The Mustangs fell short to Gonzaga both times during the regular season, but they have shown glimpses of how good they can be in both of their wins over number two seed, Paul VI, and the most recent of which sophomore Favour Aire posted 27 points, 19 rebounds, and seven blocks.
Sunday, February 23
Semifinals at American University – Admission is $10
Monday, February 24
Championship at American University – Admission is $10
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