On Sunday night at George Washington’s Smith Center, the Quakers found their final form in a clinical 62-47 victory over Jackson-Reed in the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA championship game.
“Our offense was clicking, and our defense, especially in the second half, was where it needed to be,” senior point guard Cameron Gillus said. “I definitely think we reached our peak form here on the biggest stage.”
This was the program’s second straight state title and its third in the past four seasons. Each championship victory came against the Tigers.
In recent years, this proud Sidwell squad has separated itself from the eclectic parade of programs the city has to offer. From a field of public powers, charter school contenders and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titans, the Quakers emerged as the team to beat. In this year’s run, they defeated Theodore Roosevelt and Gonzaga on their way to Sunday’s title game.
“When they started this event, it gave a little school like us an opportunity to come here and be special,” Quakers Coach Eric Singletary said.
In last year’s title game, Sidwell won a tense, basket-for-basket game on a buzzer-beating putback by Williams. The rematch was plenty competitive; the revenge-minded Tigers put their athleticism on display against the Quakers’ disciplined and savvy execution. It seemed Sidwell was always a step ahead, leading for much of the evening by two or three baskets. The Quakers’ relentless, defense-first approach was well suited to maintaining that lead.
“That’s the hallmark of who we’ve been the last couple of years,” Singletary said. “And early in the year, there was a game where we blew an 18-point lead. It was bizarre — just not what we do. So we worked on that and got back to our core values.”
Gillus led the way with 20 points, and Williams chipped in with 16. Before the game, Gillus said the team was split into two groups: the younger players who were unsure of what to expect and the experienced leaders who had grown comfortable in the spotlight.
“We’ve had some guys who have been on this stage before,” he said. “Early in the game, we wanted to show [the young guys] that if we just do what we do, we’re going to walk away with a win.”