The DCIAA has belonged to the Wilson Tigers as of late. They've won three consecutive conference championships solidifying coach Angelo Hernandez's recent proclamation that "the road to the title runs through Tenleytown."
This year, that could change. Heading into the weekend's Final Four, the 2-seeded Tigers title coronation feels more in peril than in years past. Many of the teams 2019 standouts are no longer donning the Green and Grey. Dimingus Stevens transferred to Bishop Walsh during the offseason, Mahki and Mahkel Mitchell last played at UMD before entering the transfer portal and Jay Heath Jr. is making his home at Boston College. Furthermore, 2018 stars Ayinde Hikim and Ricky Lindo are not walking through that door either.
The Tigers competition has grown more ferocious as well as they do not enter the weekend as the presumptive favorite; that designation belongs to 27-1, Roosevelt. Coach Nickens 1-seeded Roughriders have made it to 4-consecutive DCIAA finals, losing on 3 occasions to the Tigers and once to H.D. Woodson. Experts believe though that this is the season Roosevelt gets revenge and brings the conference trophy home to the Milk House.
The Final Four grouping is rounded out by 4-seed Dunbar and 6-seed H.D. Woodson, two teams that have proven capable of competing with anybody.
Here's a breakdown of the match-ups:
#2 Wilson (22-3) vs. #6 H.D. Woodson (14-10)
Wilson defeated H.D. at Woodson, 78-64 on December 11th
Game Time: Sat 2/15 at 2:00 p.m.
The Warriors went into Coolidge Wednesday night and knocked off the 3-seed Colts. Trailing most of the game, De'Vontae Gliss connected on an off-balance heave as time expired, lifting H.D. to the 69-67 victory.
The Warriors were paced this season by DCIAA leading scorer Deontay Cozart, who averages 21 ppg. Though they lost to Wilson earlier in the season, this is a different team than the one the Tigers faced in December. They took top-seeded Roosevelt to overtime and have won eight of their last nine games.
H.D. is playing its best basketball at the right time.
This year's Tigers may not have the size, depth or requisite prowess of last year bunch but make no mistake about it, they're just as capable of winning it all. Wilson has won 13 in a row, including an opening-round shellacking of Ron Brown by a final score of 63-35.
The current iteration of the Tigers relies on space and pace, often using small-ball to spread the floor and seek out advantageous match-ups.
Miasiah Brown and Nasir Best penetrate the paint leading to open looks for knockdown shooters Eric Morgan and Jay Young. Darren Buchanan is a rim-rocking sophomore capable of doing it all. On any given night, he may lead Wilson in scoring, rebounds and/or assists, while guarding as many as 5 positions.
Coach Angelo Hernandez has changed the narrative of what it means to be a Wilson Tiger. If he is able to lead his team to a championship this year, it may be his best coaching job yet.
#1 Roosevelt (27-1) vs. #4 Dunbar (15-12)
Roose defeated Dunbar 64-34 at Dunbar on December 11th
Game Time: Sat 2/15 at 6:00 p.m.
Dunbar has had an up and down season, but coach Singletary's Crimson Tide hopes to ride the wave of their 65-64 emotional victory over Anacostia in the opening round of the DCIAA to an upset of the top-seeded Roughriders.
Junior Michall Cheadle is the key to the Dunbar attack. A terror on both ends of the court, he leads the Tide in scoring, steals and assists. If he and Milton Milling can get going early, the Tide have a chance of standing toe-to-toe with powerhouse Roose.
Roosevelt crushed McKinley Tech in round 1 by a final score of 64-38. The victory was the Riders' 10th consecutive-9 of which have come by double-digits.
Roose was 3-0 during the regular season vs. the other final four contestants, including their 64-34 win over Dunbar.
Jasir Tremble leads the team in scoring, Ryan Blakey was 3rd in the conference in assists and 2nd in steals. Perhaps the key to coach Rob Nickens' run for the crown is power forward Marcel Gabriel. The 6'4 senior patrols the interior, averaging 6 rebounds and 2 blocks to go with his 8 points per game.
All DCIAA semi-final and finals are to be played at the Entertainment and Sports arena in Washington D.C. The corresponding girl's games will be played there as well.