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Champions!

Third title has Spingarn eying hoops dynasty

(Published March 11, 2002)

By BRIAN BRADFORD

Staff Writer

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Spingarn Green Wave started to look vulnerable. After narrowly escaping Anacostia, the champs lost to the H.D. Woodson Warriors – their first DCIAA loss in three years.

But a totally different Spingarn team stormed through the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs and dominated both teams that had given them trouble down the stretch of the season. Spingarn captured its third straight DCIAA boys’ basketball title on March 1 by downing Woodson 73-57.

Dynasties are the trend in the District’s public school athletic system, it seems. Dunbar boasts the last four varsity football titles. Wilson has won the last seven baseball championships and eight consecutive boys swimming championships. Now, Spingarn’s three varsity basketball titles are a part of DCIAA history.

"That is what drives these players," said head coach Keith Jackson. "When you mention history – Sherman Douglas, Dave Bing, Elgin Baylor and Earl Jones – then they want to carve out their place in Spingarn’s rich basketball history."

Spingarn has everything in place to continue its dominance over the city’s public school league. The school’s recipe for success begins with a dedicated young coach, is boosted by endless support from Principal Robert T. Graves and Athletic Director Bruce Williams, and gets whipped up by an energetic following of fans.

"The teachers come out to every game," Jackson said. "They know the players and what they’re doing on and off the court. Dr. Graves is incredible – he raises money for us – and Coach Williams has always been supportive of the program."

Jackson has coached the Green Wave through its last two seasons, stacking an impressive 51-14 record. A graduate of McKinley Technical Senior High School and Old Dominion University, he returned to D.C. Public Schools as a special education teacher and to give other kids the great experience he received on the hardwood.

"The thing about coaching high school basketball is getting the kids to believe in what you’re teaching – believing in you," Jackson said. "They see that I have made the commitment to them. I’ve done that."

The players have responded well to his philosophy. All of the players put in long hours of preparation during the season and spend the off-season participating in summer leagues and basketball camps.

One of eight seniors on the team, Delano Hunter says he has enjoyed the three-year ride.

"It has been very, very special for me," Hunter said. "I’m one of the guys who won’t play in college, so this is it for me and a lot of seniors here."

Despite having a stronghold on the DCIAA, the Green Wave has ended the last two seasons on a sour note. The DeMatha Stags have soundly beaten Spingarn in the last two City Title games, last year by 19 points and again on March 9 at MCI Center 59-52.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator