By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
At 5-foot-10, Charlottesville High School junior Isiah Washington is far from your traditional post player
On most teams, the sub-6-foot Washington would be an ideal wing, but for the guard-heavy Black Knights, Washington must spend the bulk of his time in the low block, battling it out against much taller opponents.
Fortunately for CHS head coach Mitch Minor, his bulky, yet undersized junior feels right at home in the paint.
On Friday night against Orange, Washington reeled off 22 points and was a force down low on both sides of the court in Charlottesville’s 79-54 triumph.
Washington and the Knights jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led comfortably for the entire contest.
As a team, the visitors buried nine three pointers, en route to their highest point total of the season. Washington did not sink any of the treys, but his seven offensive boards led a bevy of second and third-chance points, which allowed Charlottesville to score early and often.
“[Washington] is strong,” Minor said. “He’s learned to really give us a mid range game and that’s really been a difference for us in the last few games. He can shoot from the mid range and he’s a strong body in the paint.”
Washington netted seven of his 22 points before the Hornets touched the scoreboard for the first time. The junior often starred down one-to-two Orange defenders that were north of six feet, but that did not stop Washington from leading his team in scoring for the second consecutive game.
“It’s nothing at all,” Washington said. “I’ve played against bigger kids all through AAU season, so I asked coach Minor if could play at the bottom, and he said, ‘Sure.’”
Washington was not the only Black Knight to score 22 points. Sophomore guard Zy Faulkner co-led Charlottesville with 22 points and seemed to hit a dagger every time that the Hornets attempted to get back into the game.
Trailing by 19 midway through the third quarter, Orange big man Kyrie Carter reeled off five quick points to bring the crowd back into the game.
The excitement was short-lived however, as Faulkner knocked down a contested three-pointer on the ensuing Charlottesville possession.
Several minutes later, after Orange again cut the lead to 14 points, Faulkner quickly responded with a back-breaking trey, and the Hornets would never threaten again.
Faulkner and Washington scored off of mid-range jumpers on the Black Knights’ first two possessions as Charlottesville showed no signs of fatigue, despite playing at Powhatan less than 24 hours prior.
The 13-0 surge to open the game set the tone for an efficient first half that saw Charlottesville nearly match Orange’s final point total in just 16 minutes of play.
“Early on, we’ve started out so bad… We’ve started out down 10-12 points, we’ve found ourselves fighting to get back in the game, so I’m glad that the shoe is on the other foot right now,” Minor said. “We’re playing a lot better in the first quarter now with a lot more intensity defensively.”
Point guard Nic Motley spent most of the first quarter on the bench with foul trouble, but the talented sophomore finished the night with 12 big points for CHS.
Fresh off of grabbing 19 rebounds on Thursday at Powhatan, Lewis Tate pulled down 12 boards and scored eight points against Orange. Junior guard Jacob Bowling also tallied eight points in the win.
On the other side, Sihle Mthethwa was a bright spot for the home-standing Hornets, scoring a team-high 21 points.
Mthethwa finally put Orange on the board with a layup midway through the opening quarter and continued to attack the rim.
The Hornets nearly tripled their offensive production from in the second quarter, thanks in large part to Mthethwa’s ability to get to the lane and draw contact.
Friday’s win marked yet another long trip for the well-travelled Knights.
With the exception an early season game at Spotswood and a consolation game of the holiday tournament, Charlottesville has played every game away from home so far this season.
The road has been particularly rough this week, with bus rides to Powhatan and Orange County on back-to-back nights.
After an odd early season schedule, CHS will now play eight of its nine remaining Jefferson District games at home.
With a 5-1 JD road record in tow, the Black Knights are ready to return to the friendly confines of their home gym for the stretch run of the season.
“It works out well for us. We’ve done pretty well on the road… We got one away game over the next eight games. We got the hard part out of the way, and we’re happy to be home now,” Minor said.
Charlottesville will host unbeaten Louisa on Tuesday for a huge Jefferson District clash, while Orange will look to snap its four-game losing streak on Tuesday at Albemarle.