By ROBERT BETTMANN
The Wilson boys basketball team ran through McKinley Tech in the DC Independent Athletic Association (DCIAA) tournament semifinal game on Feb. 17, winning 70-57.
The Tigers never trailed and are favorites heading into Wednesday evening’s championship game with Theodore Roosevelt.
Wilson senior Ayinde Hikim was recently named DCIAA player of the year, and three of the five DCIAA First Team All League players are starters on the Tigers’ squad: Hikim, Jay Heath and Ricardo Lindo.
“We had a hard non-conference schedule and I think it paid off playing against a good team, a disciplined team, in McKinley,” said Wilson coach Angelo Hernandez, who is currently in his 10th year at Wilson and fourth as head coach. “They’ve got some shooters and they have a lot of kids with a lot of experience. Really good team and really good win. Got to get ready for Wednesday night.”
Wilson was dominant from the start, pouring in 19 points in the first quarter on strong shooting from Dimingus Stevens and Heath. Defensively, the Tigers’ agility and height advantage at several positions in their starting five made it possible to squeeze extend zone out, forcing tough choices for the McKinley squad.
Hernandez summarized the challenge for the Trainers.
“We play a big zone. And it’s kind of tough to get shots off against it unless you really want to shoot it,” he said. “And you’re going to have to hit it or you’re not going to continue doing well all game.”
Ricardo Lindo started off the scoring in the second quarter with a baby skyhook while crossing the lane. Hikim contributed to the next four points, the first of which came on a backdoor layup while the next he passed to Romaro Hutchison for the finish.
With less than six minutes to go in the half, and the score at 25-10, McKinley’s Jeremiah Stroman broke the Trainers’ drought. McKinley started to bring strong pressure on the ball, but the Tigers’ passing and rebounding kept them competitive. A long miss from Hikim was cleaned up by Lindo to make it 28-14. Heath then went coast-to-coast on the Tigers’ next possession, and following another Wilson stop, finished at the rim again to make the score 32-14.
“We felt good heading into the playoffs,” said Lindo, a defensive star who finished with eight points. “We beat this team last time. We just needed to stick together defensively.
“Individually, I’m just trying to be more aggressive, get more rebounds. But defensively just want to do what we need to do, win a championship.”
The Tigers went cold in the third while the McKinley trio of Atwood Newton, Daniel Allen and Tervondre Williams combined for 17 points. The trio also scored all but nine of McKinley’s points, as Newton finished with 14, Allen with 17 and Williams with 17.
Despite their efforts, when Heath hit a three from the baseline with 2:23 left in the quarter to make the score 40-26. Wilson pushed its lead from there, including a three by Carlos Dunn, and a finish at the rim by Heath, to make it 47-30.
Allen hit a long three at the third quarter buzzer to bring the score to 47-34. He went on to hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and following the first two, and a nice steal and dunk from Newton, the Trainers pulled to within 56-48. However, they never got closer than that as Wilson finished out the game strong, including Hutchison going 8-for-8 from the line in the fourth quarter.
“Overall there are a lot of guys to call out, but Romaro Hutchison hit big free throws at the end,” Hernandez said. “That’s a big deal, because if he misses those, they get more shots, time outs, and that’s the game. I appreciate it a lot. He may not be in there 30 minutes a game but he’s ready to play and when he gets in there he’s poised.”
Wilson will take on Theodore Roosevelt in a rematch of last year’s DCIAA championship game Wednesday evening. The Tigers won the game last year, but Hernandez was sanguine about the challenge.
“Going into the next game, tough team, 0-0,” he said. “They were in the championship game last year. Now we’re playing them again for the rights to say we won D.C.”