Capital Classic, 45 years young, keeps its streak intact with a twist

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Capital Classic, 45 years young, keeps its streak intact with a twist

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Capital Classic, 45 years young, keeps its streak intact with a twist

Bob Geoghan is 83, he had a stroke in 2015 that affected the left side of his body and his wife won’t let him drive anymore after a car accident. He’s not letting any of that keep him from keeping the Capital Classic basketball all-star game going.

Geoghan, who lives in Gaithersburg, Md., founded the McDonald’s All American Game in 1978 and helped start the Jordan Brand Classic in 2002, but the Capital Classic, played annually in Washington, D.C., was the first real national all-star game and Geoghan began that in 1974. The first game had Moses Malone and in the years since, the rosters have included everyone from Ralph Sampson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James and Klay Thompson.

Last year’s was event was at the Verizon Center, but due to scheduling conflicts, the game could not be held there in 2018.

“I felt the game had to (continue) this year for tradition,” Geoghan said. “I only had two months to see if I could put a roster together. I had to get the commitments and order uniforms and the venue. There’s a lot of little things that have to be done.”

It wasn’t until the first week of April that Geoghan was sure the event would happen. The event will be held over two days at two sites.

Friday, there will be two boys games at Catholic University’s DuFour Center. The first will be a preliminary game at 6 p.m. between top suburban and city seniors from the Washington, D.C. area, followed by an 8 p.m. game between national all-stars and top-D.C. area seniors. The national team will include three players who played in the McDonald’s or Jordan Brand games: Hudson Catholic (Jersey City) guard Jahvon Quinerly; St. Andrew’s School (Providence, R.I.) forward Cole Swider; and Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore) power forward Jalen Smith.

Saturday, at St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.), there will be 7 p.m. game of top national girls underclassmen versus an all-star team of D.C.-area seniors.

When Geoghan first had his stroke in 2015, he initially couldn’t speak, walk and drive. With the help of speech therapy, he regained his voice. Gradually, he went from a wheelchair to a walker and then a cane.

The one setback was driving. Unbeknownst to his wife, while she was sleeping, he would practice driving, first in their driveway and then around the block. When he was sideswiped by a truck on the Capital Beltway, however, his wife told him his driving days were over.

Geoghan can still work the phone, however. One of his early efforts was to help put on the Final Four in 1966 where Texas Western shocked Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp. Geoghan’s contacts read like an encyclopedia of basketball, from the late John Wooden to Jordan to famed former DeMatha (Washington, D.C.) boys basketball coach Morgan Wootten to current St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) girls basketball coach Jonathan Scribner.

Scribner was among the committee of coaches whom Geoghan asked to set up the girls game.

“We originally set out to have national (seniors) to come in and play local players, but we couldn’t get that together in time,” Scribner said. “What we decided was to put a little twist on it and we’ve put together a great roster of underclass girls throughout the country.”

The national underclass girls squad includes junior forward Samantha Brunelle of William Monroe (Standardsville, Va.), who was a second-team ALL-USA player and freshman guard Azzi Fudd, who was a third-team ALL-USA selection this past season at St. John’s.

“I think it’s the start of something really big,” Scribner said. “It shows something you haven’t seen before in having the future stars of America. I think it will be really competitive.”

While the Capital Classic has gotten overshadowed by McDonald’s and Jordan Brand, it does have one advantage, Geoghan said.

“Because you have a regional team that doesn’t want to lose to the national players and vice-versa, the games are a lot more intense,” Geoghan said. “People in D.C. still talk about the 1989 game when Kenny Anderson, who was then playing for Archbishop Molloy (Queens, N.Y.), had a great head-to-head battle with Curt Smith from Coolidge (Washington, D.C.). Curt got in Kenny’s shorts. It was a battle the whole game. I still have people that talk to me about that game. It’s just kind of funny how it has impacted some people’s memory.”

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