The Booker T. Washington varsity boys basketball program’s historic run has come to an end as they fell to Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy and finished as 4A State runner-ups.
Washington had high hopes of bringing their first state championship under the UIL era back to Houston. While being the oldest predominantly Black school in Houston to go to state in basketball, Washington has only had 2 coaches during the UIL era: Coach Clarence Stubblefield who was the head basketball coach for 43 years before retiring, and Coach Vincent Grayson who now has been the head coach for 16 years.
“That’s huge, the kids don’t know how important it is yet, and it hasn’t soaked in with me yet, but it will. I know how important it is and what it means to the community” said Grayson.
Ricky Johnson, a 1997 BTW grad, expressed his excitement about what this run meant for the community.
“It was a real boost all over the district. It uplifted the community,” Johnson said.
Last season BTW’s hopes of making it to state were cut short by a hardworking team in Silsby. Seeing how hard his team worked, Coach Grayson knew good things were in store for the program.
“We knew we had something special at the end of last year, but we had to make some adjustments,” said Grayson.
Washington opened the 2022-2023 season with a 70-80 loss to Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy, but came back and beat a powerful Beaumont United team 71-65. As they continued to self-identify, they would also suffer a tough, one-point loss to district rival Furr.
“After we lost against Furr in district it really hurt us, so we made some adjustments. We played one more district game and then we went to that VYPE tournament and we hadn’t lost since,” said Grayson.
Behind Chris McDermott, who led the team in rebounds and blocks, Kenneth Lewis Jr. who averaged 19.8 points per game, Odis Carter who led the team in both free throws and threes made, Davion Smith who led the team in steals, and Andre Walker who led the team in assists, BTW not only made adjustments but showed growth as a unit.
Washington ended their historic season the same way they started it, with a head-to-head match against Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy.
“We played this team the first game of the year and coach told me, he said, ‘Coach, I’ll see you in San Antonio.’ I’m like, whoa. And guess what? He saw us in San Antonio in the championship game,” said Grayson.
With community support and a strong coaching staff, after the loss it was evident that this run was more than just about basketball.
“I try to teach them when they graduate from high school to be good men, good citizens. Basketball is a good tool to get you places. It got me to college and it can do the same for them. If you’ve still got breath, you have a chance in life. I firmly believe that. These guys come to work every day. They believe in me and I believe in them,” said Grayson.
“They’re the best kids. I can always be proud of them. They will always be remembered and we’re going to continue to fight for success the Washington way; that’s how we do it. We are still winners,” said BTW Principal Dr. Carlos Phillips II.