by Robert Bettmann
At the recently renovated Theodore Roosevelt High School, the Roughriders boys basketball team dismantled the Cardozo High School Clerks, 95-41 on Jan. 5.
The game was not as close as the final score indicates, with four minutes remaining in the first quarter the score was already 37-15 in favor of Theodore Roosevelt.
After the game, the Roughriders head coach of 13 years, Rob Nickens, said he liked the way his team played.
“We got out fast. And we are a fast team, so when it turns into a bit of a track meet – that is good for us. And we have got some height. So we had the opportunity to play some of our younger players tonight,” Nickens said.
Nickens pulled his starters Reeves, Brown, Buchanan and Dockery after the first quarter when the score was 40-15.
Cardozo has a storied history, as the Clerks won three consecutive basketball championships from 2001 to 2004. But in recent years it is Roosevelt that has been on a role, having competed in seven of the last 11 high school championship games.
Cardozo’s coach, Charles Harrison, acknowledged the challenge his player’s faced, noting after the game that Roosevelt’s team benefited from a height and speed advantage at several positions.
Cardozo was also playing with a short bench. At least two players were unable to suit up for the game due to a school attendance rule which states no student-athlete may be eligible for play if they have more than three unexcused absences during a season of participation.
Nickens was particularly pleased with some of his younger players who do not usually get as much game time. He called out the positive efforts of Maurice Johnson (nine points) and Kareem Johnson (team-high 10 points.)
Throughout the game the Roughriders ran well, defended with discipline, passed with precision, and attacked the rim effectively on both shots and rebounds. In contrast, the Clerks seemed to struggle with their roles and were only occasionally able to develop a comfortable offensive flow or maintain a team-defensive posture.
With just over a mile between these two schools as the crow flies, the basketball programs are clearly many miles apart.