With just under three minutes to go in Coolidge’s first round matchup with Anacostia, senior forward Doug Farley scored back-to-back layups to give the Coolidge Colts a critical three-point lead.
Farley’s calm but strong leadership and a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Arkese Gaskins finally broke the Anacostia Indian’s spirit, and Coolidge held on for the tough 65-62 win on Feb. 20 in the first round of the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) playoffs.
“The intensity was good for us,” said Farley, who scored 15 points. “We can bond, play as a team and help each other out.”
The playoff atmosphere at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. was intense and loud, and the Indians’ fans were passionate to say the least. However, the No. 3 seeded Coolidge team was able to bounce back from a slow first half to take a one-point lead at halftime.
Coolidge’s defensive strategy was simple: stop Michael Wilkerson, Anacostia’s captain and senior guard who leads the team with 17.4 points per game. Although Wilkerson scored a game-high 25 points, Coolidge’s overall defensive effort helped them win the game.
“We just wanted to put a lot of pressure on the ball, and take away No. 13 [Wilkerson] because we felt like he was the best ball handler,” said senior forward Jamall Gregory, who led his team with 18 points. “Just speed him up, and get turnovers and fast breaks.”
The momentum shifted to Coolidge in the third quarter thanks to a lockdown defense and solid rebounding on both ends of the court. Gregory even showed off one of his signature dunks during a 12-4 Coolidge run to end the quarter. But the game wasn’t over yet—not if Wilkerson was still on the court.
Led by Wilkerson and senior guard Micah Mchaney, Anacostia used Coolidge’s formula—forced turnovers and fast breaks—to turn an eight-point deficit into a 56-55 lead with less than three minutes to play. It seemed like the comeback was on tap—until it wasn’t.
“We just had to remind our team that we were winning. They were chasing us,” said Coolidge senior shooting guard Sam Briggs. “We just had to calm down and do what we do.”
Farley made the key pair of layups, Gaskins was clutch from the free throw line and Coolidge played rigorous defense as a team to hold on for the win.
“It was a tough game. It was a good win for us. We struggled a little bit, but it was a good win,” said Coolidge head coach Vaughn Jones. “We’re advancing, so we just have to make some adjustments for the next game.”
With the win, Coolidge (16-12, 7-2) will advance to the second round of the playoffs to face H.D. Woodson (19-3, 11-2) on Feb. 22. The eliminated Anacostia Indians finished their season with a record of 18-7 overall, and 10-3 in the conference.
Other scores from DCIAA first round:
H.D. Woodson 70, McKinley Tech 68
Wilson 81, Eastern 45.