For our 10 years of existence, we’ve always done Weekly Briefing for football season, breaking down every matchup each week. But recently we decided to take Weekly Briefing and expand it to basketball. There are too many games to break down every single one, but we’ve got a format in mind that we think, giving you an inside look at what’s happening across the local basketball map.
Starting Lineup: The Remnants Make Their Presence Felt
Every season Central Virginia produces some deep playoff runs during basketball season, and that means that every year a few teams try re-tool after losing some top notch players from those squads that made deep runs.
The remnants from those squads try and build on past success in expanded roles, in different spots or just with higher expectations.
The remnants on the boys side at Louisa, Western and Goochland are starting to rear their heads.
The Lions’ 2019 run to the state championship game won’t soon be forgotten. With Chris Shelton leading the way, Louisa advanced to the state final four for the first time since 1994. But Shelton graduated, leaving Jarett Hunter, one of the area’s premier point guards, Buck Hunter, one of the area’s most confident offensive players, and Isaac Haywood, an athletic freak who doubles as a state triple jump champion, to carry the load. That trio is starting to really find its footing, picking up a 52-51 win over Western with Jarett Hunter scoring 20, Buck Hunter hitting a big three and Haywood showing an expanded offensive skill set with some mid-range jumpers. Buck Hunter is the area’s third-leading scorer with 19.6 points per game and he’s been a huge part of replacing the gaping hole left by Shelton’s scoring.
On the other side of that Western/Louisa game where the Warriors were forced into a 24-hour turnaround after battling past CHS, another remnant continued what has been an absolute tear as Tommy Mangrum — the area’s No. 4 scorer — scored 22 points. Mangrum, who was a major player on Western’s 2017 state runner-up squad as a sophomore. This year, he’s shifted out to the wing for a Warriors squad that’s 10-2 this year and he’s become an absolute matchup nightmare. Guards struggle with his height, forwards struggle with his speed. Mangrum is the engine for the Warriors, and he’s relentless.
At Goochland, Quincy Snead and Kameron Holman are among the remnants from last year’s 23-win squad that fell in the Class 2 state semifinals. Deion Harwood graduated, but Snead and Holman have stepped up offensively, with Snead scoring 13.5 points per game and Holman managing 14.2 points per contest. With those two producing night in and night out, Goochland has run out to a 7-1 record in a season that was slightly delayed by another incredible football run for the Bulldogs. If Holman and Snead keep getting in gear, Goochland has the chance to have another successful winter.
Either way, it’s clear that all those leftovers from past success? They’re embracing the present.
Here are a few players who are playing particularly well lately.
Kobe Edmonds, Fluvanna County
Fluvanna County went on a little bit of a roller coaster last week, giving up a sizeable lead to Goochland, beating Waynesboro and then falling to Charlottesville, but Edmonds was a constant during that ride and particularly explosive during the Goochland game where he had 34 and Waynesboro with 22. Edmonds is the area’s No. 6 leading scorer with 19.1 points per game, emerging as a serious scoring threat as a sophomore.
Jarett Hunter, Louisa County
Hunter has always been one of the area’s most versatile athletes, showing a unique ability to transform into whatever his team needs at any given time. Most of the time this year, the Lions needed him to set the table, dishing out 4.1 assists per game, but against Western last week Louisa needed some scoring help and Hunter was there, scoring 20 points while knocking down a critical series of threes.
Kymora Johnson, St. Anne’s-Belfield
STAB’s standout freshman shook off the dreaded flu-like symptoms last week to hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Trinity Episcopal while notching a double double with 15 points, 10 boards and six assists. That’s a huge performance to start an LIS slate that leaves little room for error among the top three teams.
Sydney Sherman, Western Albemarle
Sherman led Western to back-to-back critical wins that vaulted the Warriors right back into the Jefferson District title race. Sherman had 17 points and nine rebounds in the win over Louisa Friday just 24 hours after totaling 10 points and seven boards in a win over Charlottesville. Most importantly, perhaps, over that two-game stretch? Sherman was largely mistake free, with just two total turnovers.
Where They Stand
Jefferson District Boys
Team Overall District
Louisa 7-2 3-0
Western 10-2 4-1
Charlottesville 11-1 4-1
Orange 11-2 2-1
Albemarle 7-4 0-2
Fluvanna 4-6 0-4
Monticello 3-9 0-4
Jefferson District Girls
Team Overall District
Western 9-3 4-1
Charlottesville 8-3 3-1
Fluvanna 8-4 2-2
Albemarle 7-4 2-2
Monticello 4-6 2-3
Louisa 7-4 1-2
Orange 1-9 0-4
Can’t Miss Matchups
Albemarle at Western girls, Friday 6 p.m.
The basics: Albemarle had been rolling until a Saturday loss to Monticello ended that run and put the Patriots back in a battle to win the Jefferson. Western, meanwhile, surged in a big way, beating Charlottesville and Louisa on back-to-back nights. The Warriors have a battle with Fluvanna Wednesday while the Patriots face Louisa Tuesday, but this one Friday looms particularly large. It’ll come down to who can cover up their weaknesses better. For the Patriots, that means their young core playing composed and beyond their age while Western has to overcome a lack of true playmaking guards. To do that, the Warriors need continued production from Sydney Sherman at an elite level and big-time rebounding from Caity Driver to eliminate second chances for the Patriots. Albemarle rolled past Western in the first matchup, but the Warriors are vastly improved.
Key matchup: Western’s defense takes on Sylvie Jackson. Jackson, a freshman who’s part of a decidedly talented young group for Albemarle, is averaging 11.2 points and 7.6 boards per game. The Warriors are adept at locking up rosters without focusing on a single explosive player to get a win — see Louisa’s Olivia McGhee’s 26 points while Western got the win last week. Albemarle is much more balanced than the Lions, but Jackson is a major engine. Can Western clamp down on her?
The line: Albemarle by 3. The Patriots get the edge here based on the first result, but this one shouldn’t be as easy with Western’s improved play.
Albemarle at Western boys, Friday 7:30 p.m.
The basics: It seems terribly early for the second scheduled installment of this cross-county rivalry, but this second clash will be consequential for both teams. Albemarle has a tough week with a road clash with Louisa Tuesday while Western faced a gauntlet last week and went 1-1 against Charlottesville and Louisa. Those four teams’ matchups are turning into a pick ‘em round robin where anyone can win on any given night. The Warriors got the better of the Patriots in the first matchup but in the Holiday Hoops tournament, Albemarle got the two-point edge. This is a chance for Albemarle to launch itself back into district title contention if they can hand Western Albemarle its second district loss, but that’s easier said than done. The Warriors’ length presents all kinds of problems for an Albemarle squad that likes to attack the rim. Henry Sullivan and Joshua Sime both are solid rim protectors and even if they don’t come up with a block they can alter shots in a serious way.
Key matchup: Western’s defense looks to contend with Josh Morse. Friday against Louisa, the Western boys’ defense locked up the Lions’ leading scorer Buck Hunter for most of the game before he broke through with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Morse is a completely different type of scorer, but if the Warriors can find a way to limit Morse and his 18.4 points per game that put him in the top 10 in the area, it’ll go a long way toward lifting Western to a critical win.
The line: Western by 3. These games always seem to be close, but the Warriors’ size advantage is the difference-maker here.
St. Anne’s-Belfield at Miller School boys, Saturday 2 p.m.
The basics: Like the two games above it, this is a rematch, pitting two teams that dueled in the Benedictine Holiday tournament, with Miller winning 51-45. The game includes two of the area’s top scorers in No. 1 Clarence Rupert from Miller who’s averaging 22.2 points per game and Justin Taylor who’s averaging 15.4 points per game. The game will cap a tough week for the Saints that includes taking on Benedictine Wednesday, Fork Union Friday and in less than 24 hours, the Mavericks. It’s the kind of stretch that can get you prepared to play in the always hyper competitive VISAA tournament. Miller’s schedule this week is also stout, playing Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Episcopal Tuesday and Thursday. So both teams will get a feel for how they can handle a string of three challenging games in a tough week. The Saints are deep and want to play fast, and that could be a problem for a less deep Miller squad.
Key matchup: STAB’s young trio of big men, take on Rupert. Rupert can step out beyond the arc, but he does most of his damage around the basket. The Saints counter with three young but talented post players in Carter Lang, Eli DeLaurier and Ethan DeLaurier. Look for some combination of that trio to try and keep Rupert in check.
The line: Push. This one really could go either way. It was pretty even the last time around, look for a similarly close matchup.