BY CHRIS MCMANES — Charley Grau would have been proud to see the St. Jerome Varsity A boys basketball team win the Coach Dick Brown Memorial Turkey Shootout in Hyattsville on Sunday Nov. 29.
Grau was a longtime friend of Dick Brown and helped St. Jerome Coach Joe Sego plan and run the tournament for years before dying unexpectedly on August 30.
“Sunday was always Charley’s day to work the tournament,” Sego said, “so it was very strange not having him at the scorer’s table handing out trophies to the third-place teams.”
The event, in its 20th year, is hosted by DeMatha Catholic High School and St. Jerome Academy. It honors Brown, who coached the Jaguars’ boys basketball team for 40 years (1966-2006) before dying of cancer. He and Grau also ran the St. Jerome Basketball Camp.
The Jaguars (8-2) won the Mid-Atlantic division championship for the first time since 2011 with a 34-24 victory over Holy Redeemer Kensington.
Rashard Ray, Jr. scored 13 points to lead the reigning Washington, D.C., Catholic Youth Organization Boys 14U Mid-Atlantic City champions. N’Kobe Turner had eight points and Mikail Jackson six.
St. Jerome won three other games to advance to the final at DeMatha’s LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney ’99 Convocation Center.
The Jaguars were playing in their new reversible uniforms with “Grau” on the upper left breast. They wore black all weekend.
“Charley would have hated the uniforms because he hated the spotlight,” Sego said. “But no one deserves it more. We changed our uniforms to predominantly black for the first time in St. Jerome’s history out of respect for Charley and the 50th anniversary of Dick coming to the parish.”
Sego, who has led the Jaguars to three city titles since taking over for Brown prior to the 2006-07 season, is extremely busy during the three-day tournament. In addition to making sure all three gymnasiums (including DeMatha’s old one) have two people at each scorer’s table, he has to confirm that the St. Jerome concession stand is staffed and that all the referees show up.
He also has to coach his team.
“Winning any tournament is a great feeling,” he said, “but to be able to hoist a trophy at your own tournament is truly special and very difficult.”
The Coach Dick Brown Memorial Turkey Shootout has been played in Hyattsville each year since it began at St. Mark the Evangelist in 1996. DeMatha and St. Jerome Academy have been co-hosts since 2007. In 2013, the entire tournament was played at DeMatha after the academy’s playing surface suffered severe water damage.
The good thing about the misfortune is that the school’s basketball court was replaced in time for the 2014-15 season. In September, it was dedicated as “Dick Brown Memorial Court.”
This year’s event attracted a record 55 boys and girls teams from as far away as La Plata, Md. and featured 93 games. Local merchants benefited from all the people in town.
“I think we continue to set the bar higher and higher,” Sego said. “It’s hard to believe the tournament started with eight teams and now has 55. I definitely think this year’s tournament was the best one we ever had.”
Other Tournament Champions
Girls Varsity: Our Lady of Mercy
Girls JV: Our Lady of Mercy
Boys Varsity B: Holy Trinity
Boys JV: St. Augustine
Player Outscores Opponent by Himself
N’Kobe Turner, a newcomer to St. Jerome’s team this year, scored 30 points in the Jaguars’ 46-29 victory at Archbishop Neale in La Plata, Md., on Dec. 5. His scoring output wasn’t the only impressive feat: St. Jerome had just six players.
Former Jaguar Starting at Georgetown
Marcus Derrickson, who helped lead St. Jerome to the 2011 Boys 14U Mid-Atlantic City Championship, is a starting forward at Georgetown. Through eight games, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Derrickson was averaging 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. His rebounding average was second on the team, while his .944 free throw percentage (17 of 18) was No. 1.
Derrickson has posted two double-doubles: 12 points and 12 rebounds vs. Bryant, and 13 points and 10 boards against Syracuse, both victories. He also scored 13 points in a 75-71 loss at Maryland.
Chris McManes coaches the St. Jerome 10-and-under rookie boys basketball team.