By CHRIS McMANES — Scores of teams throughout the DMV would like to be playing in the first “Elite Middle School Basketball Showcase on Madison Street” tonight at DeMatha Catholic High School. Only four received invitations.
St. Jerome is one of them.
“I’m honored that our team has been invited,” St. Jerome varsity A boys basketball coach Joe Sego said. “DeMatha is the gold standard in high school basketball. To be among only four teams that were invited means a lot.”
The Jaguars will play Deal Middle School of Washington, D.C., tonight at 6:30 at the Looney Convocation Center. Washington Jesuit Academy will take on The Culture at 8 p.m.
St. Jerome is having another outstanding season. The squad has won two tournaments and will begin the 16-team Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) city championship playoffs Saturday.
In December, the Jaguars won the Glenelg Country Classic. They followed that by capturing the Georgetown Prep Invitational over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend.
Sego said his biggest concern is depth. His team has just seven healthy players, which is easily surmountable in CYO games because a running clock is used. Time only stops for shooting fouls and timeouts.
In tonight’s event, like high school games, the clock will stop on every whistle.
“I wish I had a few more players, but they’re all in great shape,” Sego said. “So, hopefully stamina is not an issue.”
Harold Taylor, a St. Jerome eighth-grader who will attend DeMatha next year, is a player to watch. The combo guard has long wanted to play for the Stags and is a regular at their summer camp. He was named MVP of the Georgetown Prep tournament.
“It will be a great chance for Harold to perform in front of DeMatha coaches and represent St. Jerome,” Sego said.
St. Jerome to DeMatha pipeline
Harold Taylor will be the latest in a long line of former Jaguars who have continued their education a half-mile north of St. Jerome at DeMatha. Dutch Morley was one of the first most prominent players.
Morley’s eldest son, Michael, is a junior member of the Stags’ baseball team. Joseph Morley played for DeMatha’s freshman basketball team this year. It concluded the season Monday with a 68-66 victory at O’Connell to finish 21-0.
When Joe Sego first arrived at St. Jerome as an assistant coach under Brown in 2006, one of the top eighth-graders was 2018 NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo. The former Stag and 2013 Sporting News National Player of the Year suffered a ruptured right quad tendon in January and will miss the rest of the Indiana Pacers’ season.
Sego, in his 13th year as head coach at St. Jerome and 25th overall, has won three Mid-Atlantic City Championships (2008, 2011, 2015).
In his first year (2007), he coached Quinn Cook, who later became one of the top point guards in the nation at DeMatha. In 2015, he helped Duke win the national title. Last season, he was a member of the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Championship team.
Kellon and Kameron Taylor are among other former Jaguars who suited up for the Stags. Kellon plays football and basketball at Duquesne. Kameron is a professional in Hungary.
Thai’re Vance and Nick Cross, members of St. Jerome’s most recent title team, are DeMatha seniors. Vance, a reserve guard, helped the Stags win their 40th conference championship a year ago. Cross is one of the top football players and track stars in the nation. He recently signed to play football at Maryland.
“We have a long and rich tradition of sending players to DeMatha,” Sego said. “From Dutch Morley in the ‘70s to Quinn and Victor in recent times, the connection between our schools is strong.”
Two more St. Jerome championship teams
On Feb. 16, St. Jerome boys and girls JV (12U) teams won division championships. The girls, under head coach Alick Dearie, defeated Blessed Sacrament. Jack Buchanan’s boys defeated Washington Jesuit to repeat as champions.
Both squads are planning to participate in the CYO City-Wide Basketball Tournament at the Mary Virginia Merrick Center in Southeast Washington, March 9-10. The Jaguar girls are reigning champs.
10U Boys play at DeMatha
St. Jerome’s two 10U boys basketball teams combined to play an intrasquad game Feb. 17 during halftime of the DeMatha-Carroll game. It was the Stags’ season finale at the Looney Convocation Center.
Special guests include Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Hogan attended DeMatha, while Steele and Rutherford went to Carroll.
Fifth-grader A.J. Brown got the game off to a good start by scoring on a layup. Classmate Ethan Collett immediately followed with a jumper. Other participants included Sam Chappell, Zack Needelman, Jonah Doman, Chase Brown, James LaDow-Bergstrom, Cordell Theodos, Jadon Street and Joseph Ruddy.
In the Jaguars’ gold team’s 49-39 victory over St. Pius the day before, Collett scored a career-high 36 points. His scoring outburst was necessary to counter Collin Campbell’s 29 points. Collett’s performance included six 3-pointers.
St. Jerome’s blue team is 6-2-1 and hosts its final regular-season game this Saturday against St. Mary Assumption at 9 a.m. The Jaguars, undefeated in 2018, opened the year by winning the St. Jerome Rookie Classic with victories over St. Pius and Holy Redeemer College Park. Tyson Harley scored 50 of St. Jerome’s 53 total points and was named MVP.
The gold team plays St. Ambrose at 10 a.m.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) coaches baseball and basketball at St. Jerome Parish.