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Rob Nickens will get four-hundredth win; Meridian embraces 'pit bull' mentality – The Washington Put up


It’s been 27 years since Theodore Roosevelt boys’ coach Rob Nickens made his head teaching debut, on the now-defunct M.M. Washington Excessive, but he can nonetheless recall the delight he felt watching his mom tally every of his workforce’s victories.

Through the years, MaxPreps and faculty athletic administrators have relieved Nickens’s mom of her win-tracking duties, however every victory nonetheless meant loads. On Dec. 19, Nickens skilled a brand new degree of delight as his gamers doused him with water following a 74-66 win over Dunbar — the four-hundredth win of his profession.

“When you get into this enterprise for the appropriate causes, reaching a sure variety of wins is the least of your issues,” Nickens, 51, stated. “However to succeed in a milestone like this with all the turnover and politics that you simply see in teaching, man, that’s legendary — that’s a blessing.”

His full-court press protection and fast-paced offense proved profitable early, however Nickens didn’t turn into well-known all through the District till 2008, his third season at Theodore Roosevelt, when the Tough Riders knocked off Dunbar and Ballou to seize Nickens’s first metropolis championship.

As his e-mail handle and Fb identify mirror — RobWinsChampionships — Roosevelt has turn into a public faculty powerhouse, successful 4 extra metropolis titles in addition to a D.C. State Athletic Affiliation championship in 2014. Following a 29-2 season in 2020, Nickens was named All-Met Coach of the Year.

“Profitable is enjoyable,” Nickens stated. “However extra importantly, successful retains our children out of the streets and provides them a chance to vary the trajectory of their households by going to varsity.”

Nickens stated greater than 100 of his gamers have gone on to play in faculty, and that’s what motivates him to proceed teaching.

“On the finish of the day, I do know the youngsters on this metropolis want me,” Nickens stated. “What we do right here is larger than ball, it’s greater than wins and losses, too. Rising up in D.C. isn’t like a variety of these suburbs, as a result of there aren’t a variety of avenues for our children to make it out. However basketball is one among them. So so long as I’m ready, I’m going to maintain increase younger males and successful video games.”

Meridian embraces ‘pit bull’ mentality

Earlier than the season, Meridian women’ coach Chris Carrico informed his gamers they wanted to be “pit bulls” on protection in the event that they needed to succeed in their third straight Class 3 state title recreation. At first, they laughed on the metaphor.

“Now, it’s really an enormous supply of delight on our workforce,” senior Peyton Jones stated. “It’s nearly cooler to be higher at protection on our workforce than to be an enormous offensive participant.”

Via eight video games, opponents have scored a median of 31.5 factors, no small feat for the Mustangs (7-1), contemplating they graduated 10 seniors and have performed nearly all of their nonconference schedule in opposition to Class 6 faculties with a lot bigger populations.

“We take a variety of delight in that, as a result of I really feel like a variety of greater faculties overlook us,” senior Elizabeth Creed stated.

These Class 6 video games have been by design by Carrico. After final season resulted in a 51-47 loss to a gritty Carroll County program, he realized his workforce wanted extra expertise enjoying in shut video games so they might perceive the worth of each possession. To date, the plan has labored.

“Now our workforce actually likes to emphasise 50/50 balls, as a result of clearly we discovered within the state last recreation that could possibly be the distinction between a win and a loss,” Jones stated.

Mia Johnson, St. Charles: The senior and Shippensburg commit tied her career-high with 39 factors in opposition to Lackey on Dec. 19. She added 11 rebounds and 4 steals within the win.

Jadyn Harris, Bishop O’Connell: The junior went off for 30 factors — together with a five-for-five efficiency from three-point vary — within the Knights’ 77-57 win over Rainer Seashore (Wash.) on the Jerry Tarkanian Traditional in Las Vegas.

Kullen Robinson, Alexandria Metropolis: The senior had a career-defining recreation in opposition to Potomac (Va.), scoring 28 factors on 10-for-14 capturing handy the Panthers their first loss.

Eleanor Roosevelt women’ protection: It’s laborious to single out a participant from the defensive clinic the Raiders placed on in an 80-12 win over Bladensburg. Roosevelt had 40 steals and held the Mustangs to only two factors by the primary three quarters.

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Whitman coach reaches 250 wins

Whitman boys’ coach Chris Lun entered a classroom in Walter Johnson Excessive to speak along with his workforce. The Vikings had simply defeated Walter Johnson, and the win was the Lun’s 250th with the Vikings.

As Lun stepped into the room, he acquired a second of calm.

Then the foolish string started to stream.

Lun’s gamers jumped round their coach, spraying him within the shock celebration. His spouse, Monica Hepburn, had arrange the foolish string prematurely figuring out her husband was on the cusp of the milestone.

Lun been this system’s standard-bearer since 2004 when he arrived at age 27. Eighteen years, 1 / 4 of a thousand wins, and a 2006 Maryland 4A state title later, he’s nonetheless there — an accomplishment he’s happy with.

“It’s the one place I’ve coached,” Lun stated. “It makes me notice that I’ve caught in the identical place and caught with it and put within the time and made it essential for the fellows … I’m simply [really] happy with this system that we’ve constructed.”

Earlier than the Vikings (5-1) performed their subsequent recreation, he was honored in a pregame ceremony the place he acquired a ball painted with “250” and the main points of the victory. Lun deliberate to maneuver it into the college’s trophy case whereas he decides the place to place it in his home.

After the foolish string enjoyable within the classroom, Lun and his gamers gathered dustpans, brooms and moist paper towels to scrub up their exuberant mess earlier than heading on the bus house.

That’s a trademark of Lun’s, whether or not it’s quarter-hour in a classroom or 18 years with a workforce: He has left the place as good or higher than it was when he received there.

A Hokie in cost at O’Connell

Brittany Davis had been educating English at Bishop O’Connell for 5 years earlier than a chance arose to mix the 2 elements of her skilled life. Davis, who performed faculty basketball at Virginia Tech, had saved a connection to the sport into maturity, working with native AAU groups and coaching gamers.

This previous offseason, when Aggie McCormick-Dix vacated the pinnacle job at O’Connell, Davis figured the time and place was proper to leap into the highschool recreation.

“When the chance arose to interview for the pinnacle O’Connell job I assumed ‘Oh that is it,’ ” she stated. “ ‘I’m able to hop again in and go for it.’ ”

The job shouldn’t be a straightforward one, as this system faces excessive expectations each winter within the talent-rich Washington Catholic Athletic Convention. Davis and her squad began this yr 7-3 amid an bold and eclectic nonconference schedule. The Knights have wins over packages from Texas, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

“Their finest model of basketball is after they all purchase in,” Davis stated. “Proficient groups win video games, however proficient groups who play collectively and are mentally powerful win championships.”

Earlier than the challenges of the season even started, Davis was tasked with establishing a tradition inside her program. As someone who performed the sport pretty lately, Davis had robust recollections of what she favored and disliked about specific teaching types.

“The truth that my faculty coach at all times had an open-door coverage was huge,” she stated. “Sure, your gamers need to respect you and that’s essential. … However there’s a line between self-discipline and beauty, and it’s important to know the way to stability that so you may at all times have rising moments. That’s what I cherished about my coaches: they have been very strict, however on the finish of the day in addition they prolonged grace.”

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