By MARCUS HELTON
HYATTSVILLE – This time around, the Paul VI Panthers found themselves defending a potentially game-changing shot in the final seconds.
Just like before, though, they came out on the winning end.
PVI junior guard Stan Robinson tipped in his own missed layup in the final 30 seconds, and the Panthers survived a barrage of DeMatha shots in the final seconds to hold on for a 58-55 win over DeMatha to cap a rare undefeated season in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference on Sunday.
“It’s real big,” PVI senior forward Coleman Johnson said of the undefeated WCAC mark. “No other team besides DeMatha has ever done it before, and they’re the standard in the league right now with so many championships and stuff and we’re trying to be like them. So, it’s just something we can say we both did now.”
In the teams’ last meeting on January 27, PVI senior guard Patrick Holloway hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 64-62 win over the Stags.
This time, DeMatha had the ball with 9.6 seconds to go and trailing by three. They inbounded on the sideline. Junior guard Jairus Lyles inbounded to senior guard James Robinson (Pitt), who dribbled left and then passed back right to senior Jerami Grant (Syracuse).
Grant went to pull up but had Stan and junior Jamall Robinson coming out at him, so he made a move to the basket before throwing the ball out to senior guard Marcellous Bell (Binghamton) on the right wing with 3.5 seconds remaining. Bell released an off-balance 3-pointer with just under 2.5 seconds to go and PVI’s Tilman Dunbar (Navy) in his face, but the shot fell well short as time expired.
“In the final seconds, I thought it was about to be a replay, but this time they’d get their chance to celebrate,” Stan Robinson said. “… On that last shot, we just thought, ‘strap up and don’t foul a jump shooter, and definitely don’t foul Marcellous, ’cause if you do that, this is going to be a ball game again. It was scary.”
The Fairfield-bound Johnson scored 12 points to lead yet another balanced offensive effort for the Panthers, who have showcased their scoring depth all season. Senior guard Patrick Holloway (George Mason) and Jamall Robinson each had 11 points, Stan Robinson and Dunbar (Navy) each had nine, and talented freshman Marcus Derrickson had six.
“To be part of a team that can do something good like that is rare and it’s something special,” Holloway said. “It means a lot to all of us, and I think the main thing for us now is to keep working and keep getting better. This whole year we’ve stayed humble.”
The Panthers (26-2 overall and 18-0 in the WCAC) had already wrapped up the top seed in the WCAC playoffs, and didn’t need to win Sunday’s game, but they wanted to stay unbeaten in what is regarded as one of the nation’s premier high school leagues.
“We addressed it,” PVI coach Glenn Farello said. “We talked about how this game didn’t have any significance with standings or seedings, but it had everything to do with pride. We wanted to come out there with a lot of pride, so I was really proud of how the kids attacked it. It was real important to them.”
Grant scored a game-high 15 points for the Stags (25-4, 15-3), while Robinson had 14.
The Panthers led most of the game until Anya scored to put DeMatha up 55-54 with just under 2:30 remaining. Johnson gave PVI the lead for good on a jumper with 1:19 to go. Stan Robinson extended it to three points for the winning margin.
“I knew Tilman was going to get it to me because we made eye contact,” he said, “but I didn’t know when he was going to wrap it around. What I thought was, ‘Don’t dunk it, just lay it in and get it in as fast as you can’, because you had the seven-foot wingspan of BeeJay coming, and he can block shots tremendously. When I missed it, I felt like I was the only one around the rim, so just tap this back in and we’re going back the other way.”
Not that the whole sequence wasn’t a little nerve-wracking, though.
“When I made it, I was like, “Oh my God, we’ve got to call a timeout; I’ve got to gather myself,’” Robinson said with a laugh.
Coleman Johnson 12, Patrick Holloway 11, Jamall Robinson 11, Tilman Dunbar 9, Stan Robinson 9, Marcus Derrickson 6.
Jerami Grant 15, James Robinson 14, Matt Henson 8, Marcellous Bell 6, BeeJay Anya 4, Jairus Lyles 4, Isaiah Buck-Lowman 2, Kameron Taylor 2.
Paul VI 16 16 18 8 – 58
DeMatha 16 17 10 12 – 55
3-point goals: PVI 5 (Holloway 3, J. Robinson 1, S. Robinson 1) D 4 (Bell 2, Henson 2). Total Fouls: PVI 17, D 14. Fouled Out- None.
TOP: DeMatha's Kameron Taylor makes a move while Paul VI's Patrick Holloway defends. - Photos by Marcus Helton, DMV Elite.