Fifty years ago this week, Washington’s sports pages were full of stories on the Green Bay Packers’ recent Super Bowl II victory over the Oakland Raiders.
In sports news closer to home, local basketball fans were starting to notice a kid named Jim O’Brien, who kept showing up in the Stuart High School boxscores with 20 or 30 points to his credit. The rail-thin, 6-foot-7 redhead averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore on a team that finished just 11-10.
But by January of 1968, O’Brien had shifted his game into a different gear. He’d had a 42-point, 29-rebound game against rival Falls Church to open the 1967-68 season – a stunning statistical achievement in a 32-minute high school game.
But a couple of years ago, I got to spend more than an hour on the phone with him. I’d called him for an interview for something I was working on about D.C. area high school basketball. I’d asked for about 15-20 minutes of his time.
What I got was more than 60 minutes of history, philosophy, reflection, gratitude and thought-provoking observations on learning, life and growing up with the game in Washington, D.C.
Both were high school standouts, with Williams playing on Crossland HS team that reached the Class AA state basketball finals three years in a row (1986-88). Ferry, of course, played at storied DeMatha Catholic HS, where the team he played on in his junior year (1983-84) wound up 29-2 and ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today.
After a nomadic existence the last few years, the Capital Classic high school all-star basketball game is returning to downtown D.C.
The 44th annual game will be played at the Verizon Center on April 8, with the preliminary game, featuring the District All-Stars against the Suburban All-Stars at 11 a.m. The main game, pitting of team of U.S. all-stars against the a team of local standouts, is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m.
It was 40 years ago this week that the 1976-77 T.C. Williams basketball team capped one of the great seasons in Northern Virginia basketball history.
The Titans (28-0), ranked No. 1 in both the Washington Star and Washington Post high school basketball polls, finished off an undefeated season wit
h a 95-63 rout of William Fleming of Roanoke in the Virginia Class AA final at University Hall in Charlottesville
Fleming was no match for the Titans, who rang up 28
points in both the second and third quarters of the game to pull away. Playing the baseline-to-baseline, up-tempo style that had made them so successful during the regular season, that T.C. Williams team set state tournament records for single-game scoring (95 points) and its two-game total (261) as well.