by: Aaron Dodson   5/30/2012

When one thinks of the Washington D.C. Metro area’s current top high school basketball programs, those within the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) come to mind, with DeMatha and Gonzaga leading the pack.

While these two basketball powerhouses have dominated in recent years by combining for seven of the last eight WCAC championships, a team like Archbishop Carroll seems to have taken a backseat in the conference.

From 2005-2012, Carroll posted an above .500 record only twice while finishing second-to-last in the league standings three times.

Despite its recent struggles, the Carroll basketball program boasts, arguably, the area’s two best high school teams of all time, who from 1958-1960 tallied a 66-2 record and legendary 55-game win streak.  

During this span, the Lions picked up each of its victories by an average margin of 28 points while only losing in the 1958-59 season to the freshman teams of the University of Maryland and Georgetown University by a combined total of 14 points.

In spite of these two losses, Carroll recorded an 8-2 record against Division I college freshman teams over the course of two years, beating the likes of George Washington, Villanova, and the Naval Academy Plebes.

The program even got revenge on Maryland and Georgetown by defeating both teams during the 1959-60 season.

Carroll, which featured a fairly balanced scoring attack during these two seasons, produced five All-Metro players in Walt Skinner, Ed “Monk” Malloy, George Leftwich, Tom Hoover, and John Thompson, Jr.

Leftwich, a three-time All-Met honoree, and Hoover, a two-time All-Met honoree, who respectively averaged 12.7 and 14.2 points per game during Carroll’s 1958-59 season, both went on to play college basketball at Villanova. Following his college career, Hoover was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers and played professionally for eight seasons.

Malloy played college hoops at Notre Dame before finding his true calling as both a teacher and priest, which ultimately led him to become the university’s 16th president. 

Skinner, who received All-Met honors following the 1959-60 season, played Division III college basketball for Catholic University.

En route to back-to-back Knights of Columbus National Catholic Invitational and Eastern States Christmas Invitational tournament titles, Thompson averaged a team high 16.7 and 20.1 points per game during Carroll’s historical seasons from 1958-60.

Following a successful four-year career at Providence College and short two-year stint in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Thompson returned to Washington D.C. in 1966 to coach St. Anthony High School before being named the head coach of Georgetown University in 1972.

Twelve years later, Thompson and the Hoyas brought back the 1984 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship to his hometown of Washington D.C., where his legendary basketball career began 28 years prior in an Archbishop Carroll uniform.

With this title, Thompson became the first African-American head coach to win a major collegiate championship. However, it was not the first time that he had been apart a racial barrier breaking effort.

Led by head coach Bob Dwyer, Leftwich, Hoover, Malloy, and Thompson played for a Carroll program that is not only remembered for its remarkable 55-game win streak, but also as the first integrated Catholic league team in the Washington area.

Despite finishing as high as third in the 1969 and 1973 Washington metro area basketball rankings, Archbishop Carroll has come nowhere close to matching its 68-game stretch with only two losses in the two seasons from 1958-60.

While these two seasons are undoubtedly the best that Carroll has seen to date, one may wonder whether the program’s past success will ever be translated into the present—a question that a player who was a member of the team during its legendary run seems to have the answer to.

For the past three years, Leftwich has served as the school’s Director of Athletics during which the team has improved its record each year.

The Lions finished the 2011-12 season ranked fifth in the WCAC.

With the future in mind, Leftwich hired former NBA head coach and Carroll alumnus Eddie Jordan in 2011 to lead the freshman team as a complement to former Georgetown First Team All-American and head varsity coach Reggie Williams.

As the basketball program moves forward under the direction of Leftwich, the legendary accomplishments of the 1958-60 Lions should give Williams and the student-athletes of Archbishop Carroll High School hope for the years to come.

 

 

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