The rivalry between DeMatha Catholic High School and Gonzaga College High School is one the biggest high school rivalries in the area. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, when these two schools face each other, there is no question that the game will be exciting and hard fought. Last night, these two schools face each other on the hardwood floor for the 2015 WCAC Basketball Championship. In front of a sold out crowd in Bender Arena, the Purple Eagles beat DeMatha 77-68 in double overtime to claim their fifth WCAC title.
Coming into this game, Gonzaga was sure underdogs as they were facing a DeMatha team that was one of the top teams in the nations. Not to mention that DeMatha beat Gonzaga twice in the regular season. But when the game started the Purple Eagles didn’t look like the same team that played the Stags earlier this season. Gonzaga put a lot of pressure on DeMatha and kept the game close.
All this year, DeMatha has shown that they play their better basketball in the second half. DeMatha came out of halftime trailing DeMatha 31-29 but that quickly changed in the opening minutes of the quarter. Lead by players like Player of the Year Markelle Fultz and sophomore forward DJ Harvey, the Stags ended the third quarter outscoring 16-4 and lead 45-35.
Gonzaga completely changed the momentum of the game in the fourth quarter. With the help of freshmen Prentiss Hubb who scored 8 of his 17 total points within minutes of the fourth quarter, Gonzaga was able to cut DeMatha’s lead. One of the biggest daggers of the night was a three pointer by sophomore guard Chris Lykes that tied the game at 51. Sam Miller got all the Gonzaga students and fans of their feet when gave the Eagles a 53-51 lead on a reverse layup. DeMatha responded with two made free throws by Markelle Fultz to tie the game at 53. The Stags had one of their biggest breaks of the game when DJ Harvey was fouled while trying to make a layup.
With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, DJ missed the potential game-winning free throws and the game headed into overtime with the score tied at 53. Fultz gave the Stags a 59-57 lead in OT. Then senior Thomas Bruce put DeMatha up by three with a free throw. Just like the fourth quarter, Gonzaga did not give up. Sam Miller, who finished with 19 points, hits a three pointer to tie the game at 60 which eventually sent the game into a second overtime.
Second overtime was where the Eagles wrote DeMatha off. Chris Lykes and Bryant Crawford hit back to back three’s to give Gonzaga a 66-60 lead. Sam Miller hits another three followed by a three point play by Chris Lykes put Gonzaga up 72-63 with a minute left. DeMatha tried to find a way to comeback but Gonzaga converted on their free throws and ran away with the game. After the buzzer sounded, and both teams exchanged handshakes, the Gonzaga students stormed the court in celebration of their team’s victory over the best in the land and claiming the WCAC title.
Gonzaga played a good game and never gave up. One of the biggest reasons why they won was their ability to knock down the three point basket. Gonzaga was almost unstoppable from behind the arc especially Chris Lykes. Chris scored 23 points and made 5 out of 8 three pointers. Freshmen Prentiss Hubb came off the bench and played a heck of a game scoring 17 points.
DeMatha had numerous chances to win the basketball game. They were up by as many as thirteen points and they blew it. Despite losing a thirteen point lead, they still could have won the game when DJ Harvey was at free throw line during the final seconds of the fourth quarter but he missed both free throws. DeMatha best shot to win the game was in the fourth quarter and in the first overtime. In second overtime, DeMatha didn’t play with the same intensity like they did before. They got outplayed and their morale was destroyed once Gonzaga went up 72-63. Last night’s game marks the third time in the last four years that DeMatha cannot capture a 40th championship.
Overall it was a hard fought game. Both teams played a great game and gave the fans a game they will always remember. There is no question that this game was an instant classic and will go down as one of the best championship game in WCAC history.
Video courtesy: Capitol Hoops
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