It was unusual for DeMatha Catholic High School’s boys basketball team to lose its first game. It was flat out absurd that it lost its second, to a public school no less. A third straight loss? No chance, not at DeMatha.
But to the mixed emotions of an eclectic crowd at the National High School Hoops Festival on DeMatha’s home court, the Stags fell once more, this time on a buzzer-beater from West Charlotte’s Trey Foster.
“I’ve coached long enough, you’re going to lose games a lot of different ways just like you’re going to win games a lot of different ways,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “They counted it, so credit it to them.”
Had there been instant replay, there’s hardly a chance that Foster’s shot would have stood. He took an inbounds pass with .4 seconds left, set his feet, and then shot a three-pointer from the right corner. Naturally, the crowd cheered when it went in, but most everybody figured it wouldn’t count. Nobody can get a shot off in .4 seconds.
But the refs put their arms in the air and that was that. West Charlotte wins, DeMatha goes to 0-3.
“That doesn’t happen,” Jones said. “Not at DeMatha.”
The Stags are off to a remarkably uncharacteristic start, even when considering their unrivaled youth in the hypercompetitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. Jones isn’t sure if 0-3 has ever been done at DeMatha. Heck, he isn’t sure if 0-2 has ever happened.
But whether it’s believable or not, DeMatha is winless through its first three games. To see why, a review of the first half of game tape is all you’d need. The matchup resembled more a game of hot potato than basketball. Every single player wearing DeMatha colors turned it over at least once, 23 in all by the end of the game.
“This was a much better effort than our first game,” Jones said. “We did things much better than we did Wednesday night and hopefully the next game we’ll be better. This team — we’ll be much better. I think we have the potential to get a whole lot better.”
One positive, however, is that North Carolina State University recruit, BeeJay Anya, appears to be returning to Division-I prize form after struggling mightily in the opening two games. He battled in the post with North Carolina recruit Kennedy Meeks in a preview of what’s to come in ACC play over the next four years and he got the better of him. Anya finished with 14 points compared to Meeks’ 11 and grabbed three more rebounds.
“Kennedy’s my boy, you know, being in there battling,” Anya said. “We’re pushing each other. He’s a really good player, I’m a good player and it was good for me.”
But not even Anya’s resurgent performance could make up for the lack of ball security. The Stags held a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter when West Charlotte began taking advantage, tying it at 59-59 before the Stags turned it over with .4 seconds left. The Lions called a timeout, took over on their offensive half, set Foster up for the three and he canned it.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Anya said. “We’re going to get rolling again. Once we get that first win we’ll be getting back up there again.”
West Charlotte 62, DeMatha 59
West Charlotte (3-0) 21 13 11 17—62
DeMatha (0-3) 20 12 18 9—59
West Charlotte—Trey Foster 20; Kennedy Meeks 11; Jadarius McCollugh 10; Isaiah Blackmon 7; Austin Harris 6; Nakia Rivers 4; Gabon Williams 2; Jakeen Yates 2.
DeMatha—BeeJay Anya 14; Linwood Ruffin 14; Kelvin Howard 9; Corey Henson 6; Jairus Lyles 6; Alex Newbold 4; Jaelin Grant 3; Brock Ruble 2; Terrell Allen 1.