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WCAC title in jeopardy after DeMatha's third consecutive loss


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Photo by Daniel Kucin. Virginia Commonwealth commit Jairus Lyles looks to score for DeMatha.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Virginia Commonwealth commit Jairus Lyles looks to score for DeMatha.

Published on: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

By Daniel Kucin

Coming into Saturday’s National High School Hoops Festival, DeMatha suffered back-to-back defeats, including a four-point loss on the road to Magruder.

The Stags homecoming ended with another loss after a heartbreaking 62-59 finish that went down to the last shot and possession against West Charlotte.

DeMatha’s goal of winning its 40th Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship title is currently in jeopardy after dropping its third consecutive game.

Lions center Kennedy Meeks took advantage of DeMatha’s Beejay Anya in the first half by getting better position down low and making it difficult for Anya to spark a comeback. West Charlotte was up 34-32 at the half and had total momentum going down the stretch — until they hit a wall in the third quarter.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. DeMatha’s Kelvin Howard looks for an opening. Howard scored 15 points and was 3-5 behind the 3-point arc.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. DeMatha’s Kelvin Howard looks for an opening. Howard scored 15 points and was 3-5 behind the 3-point arc.

That wall was Anya, who dominated the boards to give the Stags life. Anya grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 12 points by game’s end.

Despite DeMatha out rebounding West Charolette, the Stags had trouble adjusting to West Charlotte’s zone defensive scheme and missed jump shots that could have swung the game in their favor.

DeMatha head coach Mike Jones said Anya showed maturity and poise dealing with match-up issues with Meeks early on.

“I thought he did a great job,” Jones said. “It was frustrating in the first half. It was the first time in his career that I didn’t have to pull him for sitting him out from foul trouble.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Jaelin Grant blocks for DeMatha.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Jaelin Grant blocks for DeMatha.

“And I think it was a great decision, so he could stay in the flow and he had his opportunities. I credit him for not getting frustrated, and it’s nice to see his teammates giving him the ball.”

With only 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lions maintained possession and quickly called a timeout. Trey Foster got fouled on an off-balance shot and was sent to the line to sink a clutch free throw to tie the game at 59-59. Eleven seconds remained, and Virginia Commonwealth commit Jarious Lyles frantically drove inside the key against two defenders but missed a close range layup. Only a fourth of a second was left on the clock after a timeout was called. Foster caught the inbound pass and drained a long-range three-pointer to beat the buzzer and upset the Stags.

Foster was named the game’s most valuable player and led his team in scoring with 26 points, five assists and six steals defensively.

Young players comprise the DeMatha team, but Jones is confident his Stags will bounce back and finish the season off strongly.

“You coach long enough to know that in these games there are a lot of different ways to win,” Jones said. “We played well, but we turned over the ball too much in the first half. But we limited those in the second half.

“We just have to get better. We did some things better than we did on (last) Wednesday night, and hopefully the next game we will be better. ... I feel like we have the potential to get a whole lot better.”

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