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Sidwell Friends Upsets Wilson in Title Game with Buzzer-Beater

Dean Mazlish connected on three 3-pointers Monday, but none as big as the one he hit in overtime that was heard all around the DMV.

Sidwell Friends shocked top-ranked Wilson 63-62 on Mazlish’s buzzer-beating trey in the seventh annual D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA) Boys and Girls Championship at the Sports and Entertainment Arena in Southeast.

Sidwell (25-7) came into the game as the region’s 19th-ranked team and was given little chance of beating the tall and talented Tigers (31-9), the no. 1 team in the area and defending state champs.

But Mazlish and his teammates had other ideas, going toe to toe with Wilson and its gargantuan frontcourt, which featured 6-foot-8-inch twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell. There were 10 lead changes and eight ties as neither team was able to get more than a seven-point advantage.

Sidwell appeared to have the advantage when they took a 53-51 lead after two made free throws by Jason Gibson. But Wilson responded when Domingus Stevens hit a pair of free throws as well to send the game to overtime.

Sidwell jumped ahead again in the extra frame when Gibson converted a basket with 49 seconds left to put his team up 60-57. Stevens, who led his team with 21 points, tied the game at 60 with just 39 seconds left.

The Tigers forced a turnover on the ensuing Sidwell possession and Stevens scored on a leak-out to give his team a 62-60 advantage with just 6.9 seconds left, setting the scene for Mazlish’s moment of glory.

Minutes prior, it appeared that another Sidwell had played hero, as Jack Lewis improbably hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer of his own to seemingly give his team the win. But after a conference at the scorer’s table, the officials concluded that Wilson coach Angelo Hernandez called a timeout before the Sidwell possession and the basket was waved off.

When the matter was resolved, Sidwell pushed the ball upcourt and Mazlish heaved a 26-footer from straight on that hit the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded and the celebration began.

“Maz made it happen out there tonight,” a surprisingly calm Sidwell head coach Eric Singletary said afterward. “The kids fought hard the whole game and I’m just so proud of them. To come here in the state championship and to play this way before our fans and the city is big for our program.”

Gibson, who was named MVP, finished with a game-high 24 points while Lewis added 18. Mazlish chipped in with nine points, all on threes, including his dramatic game-winner.

“I have been coming to these championships since they began and it is one of the best displays of coaching and strategy and leadership that I have seen,” said Lucille Hester, head of the Black Women in Sports organization and a regular attendee of local high school athletic events.

Wilson, plagued by foul trouble the entire game, was led by Stevens with 21 and Jay Heath Jr with 17.

The Mitchell twins, who are headed to Maryland and who came in the game in the game averaging double-doubles, both fouled out and combined for only 10 points and 11 rebounds.

St. John's guard Azzi Rudd (35) scored 38 points during the team's win over Georgetown Visitation in the DCSAA state championship game on March 3. (Yusef Abdullah/The Washington Informer)
St. John’s guard Azzi Rudd (35) scored 38 points during the team’s win over Georgetown Visitation in the DCSAA state championship game on March 3. (Yusef Abdullah/The Washington Informer)

In the girls 2A championship game, it was another day at the office for St. John’s, easily defeating Georgetown Visitation (28-4) 63-38.

The Cadets (35-1), ranked no. 1 in the area and second in the country, were led by All-American sophomore guard Azzi Fudd, who scored 38 points in the game. St. John’s is the three-time state champion.

“Although we won our conference (WCAC) and have played a competitive national schedule, it’s still always good and important to win the state championship,” said St. John’s head coach Jonathan Scribner. “For our seniors, it is especially important as it is their last game and for our younger players it is important to continue this tradition of winning state titles.”

Georgetown Visitation was led by junior Taylor Webster with 11 points and six rebounds.

In the girls A Division, it was Eastern High School outlasting Banneker, 46-41.

The Ramblers were led by Janiah Williams, who was named the MVP after tallying 14 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Fellow junior Grady Ja’Pria chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“We have been building the program here at Eastern and Janiah and Grady are the cornerstones because they have been with me since they were freshmen,” said Eastern coach Marcus Konde. “This win in the championship is significant for us because it is the first time that Eastern has won a championship in any sport in over 40 years.”

Banneker, in only its second year with a girl’s basketball team, will be a team to watch in the future as they feature almost all underclassmen.

“This is a great experience for our program,” said Banneker coach Abby Sondar. “I think that we learned a lot today as we move forward in this program. Overall, I was pleased with their effort as we look to continue to improve.”

In the boy’s A Division championship game, KIPP College Prep (15-13) pulled away for a 55-47 win over SEED School of Washington (15-14). Kipp was led by their dynamic sophomore backcourt of Saveon Jackson and Rasheed Dupree, who scored 21 and 16, respectively. Jackson also had eight rebounds, five assists and seven steals en route to game MVP honors.

“We were excited to be in a state championship game,” said KIPP coach Chris Miller. “We made a few mistakes along the way, but we made some adjustments. I think the kids grew up during the season and during this game.”

KIPP had its hands full with talented junior guard Anthony Simmons, who filled the stat sheet with 18 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals in 32 minutes.

“It was obvious that they put their efforts on stopping Anthony in the second half,” said SEED head coach Joe Thompson. “He got a little tired and some of the younger players didn’t step up, but it was a learning experience for our program because we have a lot of younger players.”

The tournament has grown over the years and added the A boys and girls for the first time.

“By adding the A boys and girls, it gives a chance for more of our student-athletes to get exposure in a championship setting,” said Clark Ray, DCSAA athletic director. “We are pleased with the progress and with the direction in which this tournament is going. There was a lot of excitement among fans at the event and it was highlighted by that final thrilling championship game between Wilson and Sidwell Friends.”

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