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DeMatha Opens New Era With Win

By Tyler McKittrick, 12/03/21, 12:00AM EST


The Stags pulled away to beat Coolidge.

DeMatha (Md.) 2022 guard Rodney Rice.

HYATTSVILLE, MD – 2022 guard Rodney Rice scored 30 points to lead DeMatha to their first win of the post-Mike Jones era, defeating a stingy Coolidge squad 77-55 on Wednesday.

With Jones departing for Virginia Tech over the summer after 19 years at the helm, Coach Pete Strickland took over as interim head coach of the storied program with enormous shoes to fill. And while his first game wasn’t the prettiest, his team was able to get him off to a winning start.

In a game that saw 48 total turnovers - including 30 by DeMatha - it was difficult for either team to establish a rhythm offensively. 

Xavier-bound senior Tyrell Ward opened the game for DeMatha with a breakaway, two-handed dunk, then followed up with a tough 3-pointer off the bounce from about 25 feet. Ward finished the game with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Xavier commit Tyrell Ward scored 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter.

DeMatha 2024 wing AJ Swinton.

DeMatha 2024 wing AJ Swinton.

Coolidge was aggressive from the jump, exerting heavy ball pressure for the full 32 minutes. Unfortunately, its aggression worked against them early on when junior guard David “Tre” Bolding III picked up his second foul in the backcourt with 4:27 left to play in the first quarter, and was forced to sit nearly the rest of the half.

With the score tied at 9, DeMatha proceeded to go on a 21-5 run that stretched into the second quarter. Coolidge answered with a quick 6-0 run of its own to bring the deficit to 10, but ultimately never recovered.

For much of the night, DeMatha was able to utilize its strength and size to offset the quickness advantage Coolidge held on the perimeter. This was none the more evident than with 6’6” sophomore AJ Swinton. The athletic wing controlled the glass with 15 boards, while displaying impressive defensive versatility, recording 3 steals and 3 blocks. But it was his thunderous putback off the rim near the end of the first quarter that brought the fans to their feet.

AJ Swinton putback.

Despite its offensive struggles in the first half, Coolidge remained within striking distance as the second half began. Senior forward Stephaun Walker began to assert himself offensively in the third quarter, showing off an improved perimeter skillset, as well as a couple of powerful dunks on the break. The 6’8” forward was a bright spot for Coolidge, scoring 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting and hauling in 13 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks.

Stephaun Walker scored 14 of his 17 points in the 2nd half.

But the third quarter belonged to the Virginia Tech-bound Rice. The senior lead guard scored 12 of his 27 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. His shot-making was on full display throughout the game, mixing the 3-ball with a potent mid-range attack. He is deadly shooting off the dribble going left, which he showcased for all to see with a 4-point play at the end of the quarter to put DeMatha up by 21 going into the final quarter of play.

Rodney Rice had 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 5 threes. He also contributed 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

DeMatha led by as much as 26 in the fouth quarter, but there was no quit in the visiting team from Northeast DC. Taking on the character of their fiery coach, alum Derrick Washington, Sr., the Colts played until the buzzer sounded. It was not the outcome they desired, but there is plenty to build on.

They will surely be a handful in the DCIAA.


  • DeMatha sophomore Jaeden Mustaf had 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. The 6’5” guard played with strength and intelligence, and helped to alleviate Coolidge’s ball pressure.

  • Coolidge senior guard Kyle Gaskins chipped in with 11 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

  • Tre Bolding was limited to 6 points in approximately 14 minutes of play due to foul trouble.

  • James Madison commit Jerrell Roberson had 8 points and 4 rebounds for DeMatha.

Inside the numbers:

  • Coolidge shot 34.4% from the field (22-for-64), including going 2-for-19 from 3-point distance.

  • DeMatha shot 47.3% from the field (26-for-55) and 8-for-25 from three (32%).

  • DeMatha owned the glass, outrebounding Coolidge 48-28.

  • DeMatha went 17-for-19 from the foul line, while Coolidge shot 9-for-18.

Looking ahead:

Coolidge has a busy weekend, playing 3 games in 3 days:

  • Friday at St. Albans against Georgetown Day (4:00 pm)

  • Saturday at St. Albans against Avalon School (4:00 pm)

  • Sunday at DeMatha against Rock Creek Christian School (12:15 pm) (National High School Hoops Festival)

DeMatha will host and play in the National High School Hoops Festival this weekend:

  • Saturday against Westtown (PA) (9:00 pm)

  • Sunday against St. Frances Academy (7:15 pm)


Tyler McKittrick

Twitter: @PointGuardEyes