"I felt my team needed some more scoring," Ali said. "And, I feel like I'm one of the top players on the team. So I felt like I needed to pick up the scoring and keep my team motivated so we could win a close game."
In his previous four Public B games for Washington (7-4, 3-2), Ali mustered just 20 total points. He didn't even attempt a shot in yesterday's first half.
"I just started shooting more and changed from more of a facilitator to a scorer," he said. "My coach [John Creighton] said he wanted me to be more aggressive."
The result was a 6-for-7 performance in the second half and overtime. His teammates weren't far behind.
Senior guard Joseph Randall totaled 13 points and three assists. Jerome Blume, a 6-5 forward, had nine points, 12 boards and six blocks. Randall was also perfect (six makes) at the line in OT.
In fact, the Eagles hit 11 of 12 freebies in the extra frame while Gratz (6-6, 4-2) went 7-for-13.
Senior Malik Tyndale led the Bulldogs with 25 points. A Joseph Burnett triple from the left wing was on line but fell short as time expired.
"We made a lot of clutch free throws," Ali said. "We played good defense and played a lot of team ball."
Ali said that hadn't always been the case. He said some close losses could have been prevented by better teamwork.
Ah, but maybe this could be the start of something?
"It's going pretty well," Ali said. "We have problems sometimes, but overall we're fine. We're going to have a good season this year."
Ali lives on North 10th Street near Fisher Avenue and said he grew up playing ball at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center. He earned the moniker "Reds" from the bright red coif he sports. Being a junior, he still has time to generate college-hoops interest.
If not . . .
"I'm looking to get into business management or becoming an engineer," he said. "Because you can make good money."
On Twitter: @AceCarterDN